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The impact of I-496, how a highway altered lives and Black businesses in Lansing

Posted at 11:17 AM, Jul 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-14 14:01:05-04

LANSING, Mich. — Pamela Armstrong has no problem repping where she’s from, the west side of Lansing, a side of town where she says neighbors were like family.

“Different things in the community for kids to do and just family, a very family-oriented community,” Armstrong said.

But Armstrong said that bond broke with the construction of Interstate 496, a highway that runs about seven miles through Lansing. It was built on the Main Street neighborhood, a place that many Black people called home.

“Once 496 came through, it just changed a lot of people’s lives some were able to get good places to live and some weren’t. To me it was a big disappointment,” Armstrong said.

Residents weren’t the only ones impacted. Black businesses in the area were too.

“It had a huge impact on the Black businesses because 90% of the Black businesses that left after the highway didn’t open up,” said Ken Turner.

Turner sits on the I-496 Project board, a group that focuses on spreading the word about the impacts the highway had on the Black community.

“The end goal of the group is to really just bring awareness to the next generation and make them aware of the history and the things that happened back then that could possibly happen in the future,” Turner said.

And while the I-496 Project works to do that, residents like Armstrong are keeping a positive outlook on the whole situation.

“We were dealt with a different hand at that time, but God has brought us through a lot of it, so I’m happy with that,” she said.

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Tianna Jenkins

12:23 PM, Jan 12, 2021

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Tianna Jenkins

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