Posted on October 13, 2004

Gratiot Project Called Racist

Charles E. Ramirez and Edward L. Cardenas, The Detroit News, Oct. 11

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Can a road project be racist?

A group of African-American pastors and activists in Macomb County says it can.

The Macomb County Ministerial Alliance says a recently completed project to eliminate a crossover on Gratiot near 14 1/2 Mile isolates the predominately black community on the east side of the road.

The crossover at Quinn Road enabled motorists traveling southbound on Gratiot to take a “Michigan left” onto eastbound Quinn.

Gratiot is a major Macomb County thoroughfare. Quinn is the main road in a predominantly African-American area of Clinton Township, said D.L. Bradley, president of the Ministerial Alliance and pastor of the Bethlehem Temple in Clinton Township.

About 5 percent of Clinton Township’s 95,553 residents are black, according to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

Representatives from the alliance will attend the next county road commission meeting at 10 a.m. Oct. 19 in Mount Clemens to voice their concern about the project, Bradley said.

Edwin Tatem, the chief highway engineer for the road commission, said the county department wasn’t involved with the project because Gratiot is a state trunk line.

Tatem said the commission provided MDOT with data on the volume of traffic in the area. The road commission estimated that 33,605 vehicles used the crossover in a 24-hour period, Tatem said. There were 73 accidents at the location from 1997-99, causing one fatality and 28 injuries.

“Race had nothing to do with it,” MDOT spokesman Rob Morosi said of the roadwork. “It was done for safety reasons.”

Morosi said a traffic signal wasn’t feasible because it’s about 500 feet north of an existing traffic light that enables motorists traveling south on Gratiot to turn into a strip mall on the east side of the roadway.

Tenile Daniels, 28, of Mount Clemens said getting rid of the crossover means she has to take a longer trip to pick up her daughter from the baby sitter.

“It can add about 10 minutes or more,” said Daniels, who would have preferred a stoplight. “Sometimes I have to go down further to make a turn.”