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Construction underway on Mexicantown shared street, the first in Detroit

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The $5.4 million project will remove barriers on Bagley Street so that all forms of transit can use the road simultaneously

A “Road Closed” sign in front of a road with the street torn up. Businesses in brick buildings line either side of the street.
Construction on Bagley Street in Mexicantown.
Aaron Mondry

Streetscaping projects have been taking place all over Detroit this summer, with major overhauls of commercial corridors and new greenways underway.

Another that began in August is the resurfacing of Bagley Street between 24th Street and the West Fisher Service Drive. The $5.4 million project will turn the heart of Mexicantown into a shared street, the first in Detroit.

Construction is expected to be finished by November this year.

Popular in Europe, shared streets reduce or eliminate all forms of traffic lights, signs, and barriers so that everyone can use the road simultaneously. Counterintuitively, these designs end up being much safer than normal streets.

People mingle in the middle of a street with festival lights strung between businesses on either side.
Rendering of the Bagley shared street.
City of Detroit

At the moment, however, the street is torn up and blocked off to cars. Crain’s Detroit Business spoke with several owners in the area who are generally excited about the finished project, but worried about the present impact on business. The co-owner of Evie’s Tamales said, “The customers are already complaining.” And the owner of Xochi’s Gift Shop told Crain’s,

Of course I’m worried. Anytime someone sees an orange sign or orange cone, they’d rather just not go that way. This weekend was slower than other weekends. It will affect our pockets.

The city of Detroit, looking to avoid a similar crisis for businesses caused by streetscaping on Livernois Avenue, is erecting informational signs and entered an agreement with El Zocalo for the use of its parking lot to the general public.

It’s unclear how organizers of Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week (October 4 to 13) and Day of the Dead celebrations (October 31 to November 2) will work around the construction. The project being is implemented in Mexicantown precisely for festivals like these, where the street could temporarily become pedestrian-only.