Reinvesting Cities by Undoing Urban Expressways

Here is an interesting article posted in the Next American City by Matt Bevilacqua, End of the Roads: When Highway Removal Works.

A report referenced in the article, The Life and Death of Urban Highways, provides case studies of urban highway removal in several communiities around the world and provides a list of other communities with links to more infomation. The following are excerpts from the foreword by Peter Park that provide insights into what has been learned from our failed 20th century experiment with urban freeways.

“Cities exist for people; freeways exist for moving vehicles. Cities are centers of culture and commerce that rely on attracting private investment. Massive public spending on freeways in the last century reduced the capacity of cities to connect people and support culture and commerce…

…Freeways are simply the wrong design solution for cities. By definition, they rely on limited access to minimize interruptions and maximize flow. But cities are comprised of robust and connected street networks. When limited-access freeways are force-fit into urban environments, they create barriers that erode vitality—the very essence of cities. Residents, businesses, property owners, and neighborhoods along the freeway suffer but so does operation of the broader city network. During traffic peaks, freeways actually worsen congestion as drivers hurry to wait in the queues forming at limited points of access…

…The fundamental purpose of a city’s transportation system is to connect people and places. But freeways that cut through urban neighborhoods prioritize moving vehicles through and away from the city…

..The freeway in the city was an untested idea when it was deployed around the world. Decades of failing to deliver congestion relief and improve safety combined with the hard evidence of damaged neighborhoods have proven that the urban highway is a failed experiment. But failures, especially big ones, can also provide many lessons…”

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