Solving Cities

Top 12 urban highway removal projects

Top 12 urban highway removal projects

Posting in Cities

A new list points to the top 12 opportunities for cities to transform highways that cut through cities into normal city streets and boulevards.

The Congress for the New Urbanism released their list of the top 12 North American urban highways with the best opportunity to be replaced with boulevards.

The 2012 Freeways without Futures list makes the case that removing these highways and replacing them with boulevards and street surfaces is cost-effective for cities and add value to communities.

Here's the top 12 urban highways with the best opportunity for transformation:

1. I-10/Claiborne Overpass, New Orleans, La.
2. I-895/Sheridan Expressway, New York City (Bronx)
3. Route 34/Oak Street Connector, New Haven, Conn.
4. Route 5/Skyway, Buffalo, N.Y.
5. I-395/Overtown Expressway, Miami, Fla.
6. I-70, St. Louis, Mo.
7. West Shoreway, Cleveland, Ohio
8. I-490/Inner Loop, Rochester, N.Y.
9. I-81, Syracuse, N.Y.
10. Gardiner Expressway, Toronto
11. Aetna Viaduct, Hartford, Conn.
12. Route 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct, Seattle, Wash.

The freeways are ranked based on the following factors: the age and design of structures, redevelopment potential, potential cost savings, ability to improve both overall mobility and local access, existence of pending infrastructure decisions, and community support.

All of the freeways are in various stages. Some are being advocated for removal by community members, others are in the middle of preliminary project studies, and a few are in the process of being removed.

Here are some interesting statistics from a few of the highway removal projects:

  • Removal of the Alaska Way Viaduct will open up 335 acres of public land on Seattle’s waterfront.
  • 2.2 seconds of delay would be added to the evening commute in Rochester, but the removal project would creating 9.4 acres of developable land.
  • Rerouting I-70 away from downtown St. Louis could reduce car traffic by more than 50%.
  • Full removal of the Claiborne Overpass in New Orleans would open up 35 to 40 city blocks that will no longer be blighted.

Skeptical that urban highway removal is a benefit to cities? Check out cities like Milwaukee, San Francisco, or Portland that have already removed their urban highways.

Photo: WSDOT/Flickr

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure