DELRAY, Mich. (WXYZ) — Progress is being made on the Gordie Howe International Bridge – but it has meant the relocation of both businesses and people in the Delray community.
“I just hope that it gets done soon so we can wrap it up," said David Martin.
He lives nearby I-75 in southwest Detroit, where construction on the bridge has continued.
Part of the Gordie Howe Bridge construction is to create four new bridges and five new pedestrian bridges along I-75, closing down some key roadways at times.
“Sometimes it is an issue with having to try to get around if you are used to a certain route or used to a certain way," said Martin.
The good news is everything is on schedule, with a completion date of 2024. But with closed bridges over I-75 to be complete a bit sooner— likely in 2022.
The new Gordie Howe Bridge will have three lanes in each direction, and a walking and biking path for pedestrians.
"Over the months to come, you will see that that tower will start building and building and building to an excess of 750 feet over the next two years, that is going to be astounding," said Mark Butler, Director of Communications for the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority.
In order to build the bridge, more land was needed, forcing people and businesses out of their homes in the Delray community. 7 Action News reporter Ali Hoxie tried to reach out to some of the businesses still in the area and ones that left— but they all declined an on-camera interview.
"A lot of businesses that I did see at first are now closed and or are not around here anymore because the bridge did buy them out, and now they are not here," said Martin.
According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, $65 million has been spent on buying out properties with an additional $60 million spent to relocate people who once lived in Delray.
That includes 222 residential and 60 commercial parcels. The project is being paid for through Canadian dollars, including land acquisition.
“Delray, I think would have preferred the bridge, of course, be somewhere else," said Karen Dybis, a citizen archivist and journalist.
Dybis is a local historian, putting into perspective the impact the bridge build has on the Delray community.
“This was probably the worst thing that can happen, someone says they are going to put a bridge down in your neighborhood because that was the only spot that made sense, and it was one of the more open areas of Detroit for development," said Dybis. "I hope that the community can see it as 'let's make the best of this situation and take advantage of some of the economic opportunities that are going to come up because of it.'"
Dybis says one economic opportunity has been helping people who once lived in Delray find new homes within Detroit, while being able to sell their homes in Delray despite declining home values.
As for future benefits, Dybis says those could come in the form of beautifying Delray. Adding in plants and trees while working on the new bridge.
“What I would like people to remember about Delray is that it has a chance to be beautiful, it has a chance for investment, there is going to be this massive bridge there and I think things could grow around that that would benefit both the neighborhood’s residents, the city has a whole, if they could redevelop the riverfront,” said Dybis.
The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority confirms with 7 Action News they have all the land needed for the project.