Detroit takes control of freeway litter cleanup from state
Mayor Mike Duggan thinks the city can clean up its littered, overgrown freeways better than the state.
Driving the news: We're about to find out if Duggan is right — Michigan agreed to let the city take control of freeway cleanup for $650,000 a year, a Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson tells Axios.
What they're saying: "I can't stand the overgrown grass and the trash, I said, 'Just give me the money and we'll maintain the freeways in Detroit,'" Duggan told reporters backstage at last week's Detroit policy conference. "Everybody thinks we do anyway. I'm gonna get the blame, I might as well have the responsibility."
- Duggan says he's wanted to take control of freeway cleanup for years.
State of play: Residents should see improved embankments and cleaner grassy areas near steel safety barriers come midsummer, the mayor's group executive of infrastructure Brad Dick said in a statement to Axios.
- Dick and his team are aiming to clean at least three to four times throughout May-October. There's also plans to plant trees in the spring and daffodils in the fall, he says.
- MDOT, which let its mowing and litter contracts with two private companies expire last fall, currently mows twice a year.
- The city says a lack of its own equipment means it will need to contract some of the workers from private companies.
Between the lines: The ongoing beatification effort is expedited by the city hosting the 2024 NFL Draft.
- "Rochelle Riley (the city's arts and culture director) told me she's going to have 200 murals done this year — I told her I want 500. She says 'I think I might have enough artists,'" Duggan said. "You look at what murals have done on these buildings, it just completely changes the way you experience a neighborhood."
Flashback: Removing trash and blight is a central tenet of Duggan's tenure as mayor, from his yearslong, now-bond-funded campaign to demolish vacant houses to clearing debris from thousands of neighborhood alleys.
- Detroit is spending $95 million of its $826 million American Rescue Plan Act dollars on commercial blight, including demolition and commercial corridor cleanup, plus $23 million for "neighborhood beautification," including clearing out vacant lots.
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