Like much of Detroit, the Delray neighborhood has fallen hard. Its blighted buildings, quiet streets, and fields of overgrown weeds where pristine lawns used to be are all telltale signs of the urban decay that Detroit has become known for. But change is coming to this long-neglected corner of the Motor City, in the form of a massive bridge that’s right out of the glory days of urban freeway building.

Here’s the short version of Delray’s story: Once a booming industry town full of shops, restaurants, and bars, Delray hit its peak in the 1930s with a population of about 24,000. Over time, as factories closed and the suburbs drew people away from the city, Delray’s population shrank, hitting around 18,000 by the 1950s. Then, the deathblow: The city built a freeway along the northern edge of Delray in the late ’60s and early ’70s, cutting it off from the rest of Detroit. Within a decade, the population dropped to 9,800, and continued to fall.

Today, Delray is almost completely surrounded by heavy industry. At one end of the neighborhood, there’s Zug Island, site of a decades-old U.S. Steel mill and the Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant, which services more than one-third of the state’s population. At the other end of the neighborhood, there’s the Ambassador Bridge, depositing thousands of trucks into Detroit every day (about 25 percent of trade traffic between the U.S. and Canada crosses the Ambassador). North of the freeway, there’s a freight yard. Along the river to the south, there’s the LaFarge Cement silo.