The Bridge Comes to Delray
Detroit’s downtrodden Delray neighborhood has been waiting for the new bridge to Canada for well over a decade. The bridge means hundreds of families will be relocated.
Plans for the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) started in earnest in 2004, a way to speed traffic to and from Canada, especially trucks, providing another way across the border than the Ambassador Bridge, built in the 1920s.
Artist conception of the DRIC courtesy Michigan Department of TransportationDelray seemed to be the best choice for the bridge to land. Many people have already left and a lot of vacant property had already been acquired by the city. Trouble was, the owner of the Ambassador Bridge, Manuel “Matty” Maroun, kept fighting the DRIC with legal challenges, even funding and losing a statewide ballot proposal to stop the DRIC.
Meanwhile, both Governors Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, and Rick Snyder, a Republican, led the charge for the new bridge despite opposition from his own party. There was talk the bridge might be open in 2016. That possibility has long passed. The residents of Delray suffered, not knowing when or if or when they’d have to leave and if they’d be properly compensated. Then there are the residents who’ll still be there to see all the construction and truck traffic coming their way.Last year, 2015, brought signs the project was moving ahead. The DRIC was rechristened the Gordie Howe International Crossing. More community meetings were held but the buyout offers for the hundreds of residents came slowly.
Now its December 2016, with clear signs the bridge is really coming. The Michigan Department of Transportation is moving fast, buying more homes. More people are relocating. About half the affected residents have struck deals to sell so far but it’s estimated about half of them are leaving Detroit. They can’t afford the city anymore as home prices keep rising.
MDOT expects to have all its property buyout offers for residents and businesses by the end of the year. It’s expected the state will have to take some properties by eminent domain. Barring any more delays, this bridge may open in five years, maybe sometime in 2022.
Detroit Public Television, through the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, looks into the lives of some Delray residents with the bridge coming in.