For decades, transportation planners planned and built urban freeways that destroyed many communities of color and continue to have devastating economic and environmental effects long after their inception. We’ve rounded up three of most intriguing ideas from the “Undoing the Damage of Urban Freeways” webinar to learn from in future planning:
Our Transportation for America program has released a comprehensive report on why our default “solution” to traffic congestion—widening highways—simply does not work. The Congestion Con proves with data that one more expensive freeway lane most certainly will not solve congestion, and perhaps congestion is the wrong thing to be trying to solve in the first place.
Highways routed through population centers in the 50s and 60s have scarred many communities around the country and left neighborhoods disconnected from opportunity. To help address this in the Twin Cities, Smart Growth America worked with MnDOT on two intersections around I-94 to identify problems and improvements that can be made.
MnDOT partnered with Smart Growth America to host two visioning and design workshops for decision-makers and community residents to determine how to best address mobility needs around I-94 through Minneapolis and St. Paul. This report summarizes the findings from those workshops.
After 55 Years, Where Are We on Highways?
National Journal, June 27, 2011
How far have we come since this first highway bill? Is the highway system now true to Eisenhower’s vision of a workable, free, transcontinental roadway? Are there new technological or demographic changes since 1955 that should be incorporated into the surface-transportation goals? If Eisenhower was alive now, what would you tell him about his proudest domestic accomplishment?
If baby boomers stay in suburbia, analysts predict cultural shift
Washington Post, June 28, 2011
The nation’s suburbs are home to a rapidly growing number of older people who are changing the image and priorities of a suburbia formed around the needs of young families with children, an analysis of census data shows. Although the entire United States is graying, the 2010 Census showed how much faster the suburbs are growing older when compared with the cities. Thanks largely to the baby-boom generation, four in 10 suburban residents are 45 or older, up from 34 percent just a decade ago. Thirty-five percent of city residents are in that age group, an increase from 31 percent in the last census.
Green Transportation Research Bill Introduced in the House
AltTransport, June 28, 2011
While a lot of attention is being paid to new surface transportation authorizations from the House and Senate, Representative David Wu (D-Oregon) introduced another transportation-related bill Monday that aims to fund research on alternative transportation.
California: Mission Bay Prepares for Makeover
The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2011
San Francisco’s effort to transform an abandoned rail yard on its eastern shore in Mission Bay into an urban center is poised for a serious boost from plans by Salesforce.com Inc. to build a sprawling corporate campus in the area. Urban-planning experts say the arrival of Salesforce will provide a vital stimulus for a once-neglected part of the city. But the bold design for the campus is just beginning a monthslong approval process, and Chief Executive Marc Benioff is leaving open the possibility that the company could simply pick a different location for its new headquarters.
Commuters sitting in gridlock may find it hard to believe, but many smaller and mid-size cities in America have under-used highways. In some of these cities, highways that were built decades ago are now impeding potentially valuable real estate development. And as many highways from the middle of the last century deteriorate past the point of minor repairs to needing to be entirely rebuilt, leaders in these cities are starting to question the cost and efficiency of maintaining certain pieces of their highway systems.
In Seattle, Cleveland, Syracuse and a number of other cities across the country, leaders are debating the merits of removing portions of their underused, crumbling highway systems to allow for economic development instead. As older highway segments meet the end of their useful life, civic leaders are presented with a rare opportunity to reduce expenses on underused infrastructure and create new opportunity for development at the same time. (editors note: according to transportation engineers, a road or bridge’s “useful life” is determined to be over when repairs are so expensive and the conditions are so bad that it would cost several times more to rebuild the road or bridge than to tear it down and build something different.)