Demolishing Freeways and Reviving American Cities

San Francisco Embarcadero © Russell Mondy

As cities grapple with budget cuts and rising infrastructure costs, the value of removing costly freeways has been gaining more attention. Boulevard conversions are now being considered as a cost-effective, practical alternative to rebuilding expensive expressways. At first, most residents gasp at the thought of removing their local freeway and for good reason; it seems counterintuitive. Nobody likes it when their drive home is prolonged due to heavy bumper-to-bumper traffic, so we should make our freeways wider! Not tear them down…right?

John Norquist, former Mayor of Milwaukee (1988-2004), current CEO of the Congress for New Urbanism and author of The Wealth of Cities, was recently interviewed by Next American City to discuss highway removal and “our congestion obsession”. Norquist’s best known achievement as Mayor of Milwaukee was demolishing the Park East Freeway – 1960s-era expressway that restricted access to the city’s downtown.

Continue reading after the break for more on this subject and to view the top twelve freeways pending their demise.