Stop Detroit's I-94 Boondoggle

Across the country there are countless proposed highway projects, like Detroit's Interstate 94, that are not just expensive — they’re outright boondoggles. As more and more people realize the advantages of driving less, we should invest in a connected and accessible 21st century transportation system instead of wasting funds on newer and wider highways. We need your help to stop these boondoggles.

It's time to shift Michigan’s transportation priorities

In 2014 more people rode public transportation than had in 57 years! In fact, since 1983, there has been a decrease in the percentage of young people getting a driver’s license. A report from the Highway Loss Data Institute shows that from 1983 to 2010, the share of 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds with a license fell from 46 percent to 28 percent and from 69 percent to 46 percent, respectively. Moreover, new technologies and other options, such as bike sharing, are making it easier for people to rely less on cars.

Yet, despite these well-documented changes in transportation trends, our decision makers continue to prioritize new roads and wasteful highway expansions. Meanwhile, other needs — from expanding public transportation to critical bridge repairs — go unmet. At a time when one in nine bridges in America are considered “structurally deficient,” these confused priorities put millions of Americans in danger every single day. 

The Interstate 94 Boondoggle

In Michigan, highway planners are gearing up to spend at least 2.7 billion dollars to widen Interstate 94 through the heart of downtown Detroit. Currently, Interstate 94 runs through and separates the Midtown and New Center neighborhoods. These two central areas are important to the city’s revitalization. They have been leading efforts in boosting arts and culture, retail and commercial space, innovative planning, and promotion of downtown living. Widening the highway would reverse these successes. The widening would include the destruction of 11 pedestrian bridges, 12 commercial buildings, 14 single-family homes, two duplexes, two apartment complexes, and three historic buildings. 

Moreover, the expansion of I-94 comes at a time when the state is making big budget cuts, and struggling to fund repairs to its existing roads and bridges. In fact, the most recent Federal Highway Administration data shows that currently there are at least 1,295 structurally deficient bridges throughout the state in desperate need of repair.

Underlying the justification for expansion are state estimates that the number of miles people travel annually will increase at least 11 percent by 2025, while in fact vehicle miles traveled in the region has decreased by 14 percent as of 2013.

Meanwhile, residents have clearly stated their dissent, saying they “would rather live with current levels of traffic congestion (63 percent) than pay more to reduce traffic congestion (37 percent).” In March 2016, the Detroit City Council passed a resolution unanimously opposing the widening of Interstate 94 and Interstate 75. The resolution specifically mentioned the need to spend the state’s scarce transportation dollars on repair and maintenance of existing roads, as well as expanded service and access to transit for Detroit communities. The resolution further stated that these road expansions threatened communities with increased traffic and air pollution and were part of an anti-urban agenda that divested funds from cities and encouraged sprawl to surrounding areas.
There is no doubt this road is in need of maintenance, but not at the expense of the community. These impacts could be lessened—along with the project’s cost—if state officials opted to rebuild the highway on its existing footprint. 

Michigan’s transportation spending must be done wisely. Instead of spending money on unnecessary and wasteful expansion, the Michigan Department of Transportation should use current funds to resurface and repair existing roads and bridges. This also would provide opportunities to improve Michiganders transportation options by investing in regional projects such as the M-1 Rail Streetcar, the Woodward Rapid Transit, the Ann Arbor Commuter Train, and the Gratiot Rapid Transit

Moving Michigan forward 

Our lives, our communities, and how we get around are constantly changing. It’s well past time for our transportation spending priorities to reflect these changes, rather than the outdated assumptions that so many of them are based upon. We deserve to have a safe, reliable transportation system that offers real options for however people might want to get around. Stopping this highway boondoggle is an important first step for getting us there.

Issue updates

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Consumer campaign calls on Wendy’s to “hold the antibiotics” from its beef supply chain

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Boeing Max planes have ‘optional’ safety mechanisms

Newly-revealed details by the New York Times about of the crash of two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes may stun even the most hardened observer. The planes lacked a safety feature that may have warned pilots about problems because it was not required and Boeing charged airlines extra to include it. Adam Garber, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Consumer Watchdog issued the following statement.

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News Release | US PIRG | Public Health

New Report: More than two-thirds of states examined receive failing grades for efforts to reduce lead in school drinking water

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After warning companies that "Void Warranty if Removed" are illegal, the FTC is expanding their investigation into anti-repair practices

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Antibiotics

EPA proposes use of 650,000 pounds of antibiotics a year on citrus fields

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

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Result | Food

Researching How Tax Dollars Become Twinkies

PIRGIM research found that since 1995, $17 billion in agricultural subsidies have gone to corn syrup and other junk food ingredients. That’s enough to buy 2.8 billion Twinkies, and vastly more than has gone to apples and other fresh fruits and vegetables.

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Result | Public Health

KIDS’ SCHOOL LUNCHES NOW SAFER

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Result | Health Care

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Result | Health Care

Young People Now Covered

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Report | PIRGIM Education Fund | Public Health

Safer School Supplies: Shopping Guide

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Highway Boondoggles 4

America’s infrastructure is in rough shape. Many of our roads, bridges and transit systems are aging and in need of repair.

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Debt Collectors

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Shining A Light on Consumer Problems:

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Our investigation reveals shocking range of prices for critical medications

We know that we pay some of the world's highest prices for medications. But why should the price we pay for the same medication be dramatically higher at one pharmacy than another?

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Menards joins other home improvement stores in ditching deadly paint strippers

 

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Our 'Driving into Debt' report highlights the impact of risky auto loans and car ownership

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More than 10,000 people pledge to skip the straw

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Blog Post | Public Health

Menards joins other home improvement stores in ditching deadly paint strippers

 

Dozens have died from the chemical fumes of toxic paint strippers sold in stores across America, but now Menards is joining other home improvement retailers in attempting to stop that number from growing.

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Zero Hunger campaign aims to end hunger on 10 college campuses

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Our 'Driving into Debt' report highlights the impact of risky auto loans and car ownership

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More than 10,000 people pledge to skip the straw

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YouTube town hall attracts thousands who want the right to repair our stuff

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On holidays, most of us like to shop or grill or visit grandma or the in-laws. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s good for our souls to take a moment to remember the meaning of each holiday. Consider Earth Day.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Fisher-Price recalled 4.7 million Rock n’Play baby sleepers on Friday. U.S. PIRG Consumer Watchdog Adam Garber issued a response: "“While we’re pleased that Fisher-Price is finally recalling these dangerous sleepers, 30 deaths in 10 years is 30 deaths too many and 10 years too late."

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In what we hope will be a bellwether ruling, another jury has found Roundup to be a "substantial factor" in causing a man's cancer.

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Nearly a year after a report by our partners at U.S. PIRG Education Fund found asbestos in its children’s makeup products, Claire’s agreed to take action.

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Read U.S. PIRG's statement on Wells Fargo eliminating some fees for student on debit cards.

Consumer Protection | U.S. PIRG

Campus debit cards cost students over $24 million in fees

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Antibiotics | U.S. PIRG

Hold the antibiotics Wendy's

A recent estimate suggests that as many as 162,000 people die from antibiotic-resistant infections every year. Wendy's can help protect our life-saving medicines if it stops serving beef raised on routine antibiotics.

 

Solid Waste | U.S. PIRG

Let's move beyond plastic

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Consumer Protection | U.S. PIRG

The real price of medications

The results of our investigation of variations in prescription drug prices may surprise you.

 
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