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3 Cities With Freeways Going Nowhere

In this great article, Linton Weeks explores the history of freeways cutting through cities, and explores the movements throughout our nation that are working to fix the damage that freeways have done to their communities. Weeks’ cites three examples, taken from Congress for the New Urbanism’s list of Top Ten Freeways without Futures for 2014. The Congress for the New Urbanism gives this definition of a “Freeway without Future”:

There are lots of upsides to tearing down highways, Tim Halbur of the CNU tells NPR, “not the least of which is a matter of social equity. In the era of freeway expansion, whole neighborhoods — usually full of lower-income people —were plowed through with elevated highways. These highways destroyed the social and economic connections that knitted the community together.”

Weeks’ article showcases local movements in New Orleans, Detroit, and San Fransisco. You can read more about the details of each city in the article, but they all are moving towards the same goal: The removal of a damaging freeway and the healing of the community around it. The article also speaks to the dangers of in-city freeways and what can be gained by removing them. In this quote from the article, we can see that there are many problems are addressed when a freeway is removed or rerouted:

There are lots of upsides to tearing down highways, Tim Halbur of the CNU tells NPR, “not the least of which is a matter of social equity. In the era of freeway expansion, whole neighborhoods — usually full of lower-income people —were plowed through with elevated highways. These highways destroyed the social and economic connections that knitted the community together.”

The most important point this article makes is that the problems with these freeways are being recognized, and that action is being taken to rectify issues. Additionally, they are making a real difference in their community. San Franciscans have already successfully resisted a web of highway expansions that would have cut through their neighborhoods. Now they are working to turn a portion of I-128 into a boulevard.

If we look at the planned eastward widening of I-70, we can see that we face the same issues. If I-70 is widened, it will cut into the neighborhood around it, further damaging Elyria-Swansea and Globeville. However, if the highway is rerouted, decade-old wounds can be healed. The damage done by freeways like I-70 is being realized and it is time to finally fix our mistakes.