American highways are so expensive that cities are tearing them down — here’s what they’re turning into

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Traffic moves on the elevated Central Artery in Boston (2003, top). Parks and open space are seen in the same area (2007, bottom). AP

Throughout the 20th century, highways were key generators of economic growth for American cities. They allowed commuters to quickly travel between urban centers and the suburbs, unclogged traffic-ridden streets, and created infrastructure jobs.

But these days, investing in highways is a bad business decision for many cities.

An increasing number of cities around the US are choosing to tear down or transform parts of their dilapidated interstates, rather than repair them. These redevelopments are largely happening because old highways are costly to rebuild, according to Rob Steuteville from a DC-based nonprofit called the Congress for New Urbanism.

For the past decade, Steuteville’s team has documented cities that have or are considering highway removals. He expects the trend to continue to grow.

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