Defending Urban Freeways At All Costs Ignores the Potential of Cities

When freeways are dismantled, economic, and social benefits often follow. A mid-20th Century mechanistic view fails to understand such outcomes.
D.L. / Flickr

On the week that the Congress for the New Urbanism released its twice-yearly Freeways Without Futures list to draw attention to urban Interstates that should be dismantled, a Virginia historian threw cold water on the entire argument.

Swift acknowledges that urban Interstates contributed to a "North American style of daily living that is utterly dependent on the automobile," and that boring these highways through neighborhoods damaged cities and their inhabitants. “The collateral damage was extreme,” he says.

He nevertheless endorses a mid-Century mechanistic view of planning that is at odds with the view of urbanists, who think in terms of synergies. Here’s the mechanistic approach: A road is a road and a car is a car. If you have cars to move, you build a road. You expand the road when necessary.

Full Story: Defending urban freeways at all costs ignores the potential of cities


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