John Gallagher/The Detroit Free Press — The much-delayed process of buying land in southwest Detroit for the planned Gordie Howe International Bridge is finally about to begin in earnest.
The Michigan Department of Transportation has begun sending letters to residents of Detroit’s Delray district to let them know about three public information sessions set for early June for property owners whose homes have been identified as falling within the project footprint.
MDOT’s three public open houses are set for June 2 (1 -7 p.m.), June 3 (10 a.m.-6 p.m.), and June 4 (10 a.m.-6 p.m.). All the open houses will be held at the Delray Neighborhood House, 420 Leigh St.
Alan Ackerman, a Bloomfield Hills attorney who represents some of the property owners in the district, said Friday that many Delray owners will greet the land buys with a sense of relief. Plans for the new bridge have been in the works for years, leaving many in Delray expecting a buyout offer but not knowing when or if it would come.
“There has been a whole lot of pain in the waiting,” he said. “Canada and MDOT finally look like they are really moving forward. Now owners of businesses and homes have some certainty, we would hope.”
Land is needed to accommodate both the approaches to the bridge as well as the planned U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection plaza. About 700 parcels in all must be obtained at an estimated cost of $370 million.
As with other portions of the bridge project, Canada will pay for the land acquisition and be paid back through future tolls. The Gordie Howe International Bridge is expected to open to traffic in 2020.
In MDOT’s letters to homeowners, the department said that staffers will be available for one-on-one meetings at the open houses to discuss relocation assistance and other concerns.
In a second letter to commercial property owners, MDOT said it is expected to take two to three years to relocate all the businesses and residences from the project footprint.
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