A New List of Potential Freeway Removals Emerges

The Scajaquada Expressway in Buffalo is among a slew of potential freeway removals nationwide.
November 9, 2017, 8am PST | snewberg | @JoeUrbanist
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Jaromir Chalabala

Cities are increasingly removing or decommissioning freeways or portions of freeways. Over the past two decades or so cities like Milwaukee, Boston, and Seoul have removed at least sections of freeways. Perhaps the most well-known is the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco, an elevated highway that collapsed in the 1989 earthquake and was not rebuilt, a decision that allowed the city to reconnect to its waterfront. 

The Congress for the New Urbanism has been promoting "freeway removal" for more than a decade, and regularly publish a list of "Freeways Without Futures," suggesting prominent freeways whose removal would "remove a blight" from their cities. Recent finalists include I-70 in Denver and the 710 in Pasadena. Eyes are on the Scajaquada Expressway in Buffalo, a freeway that slices neighborhoods in half but has been earmarked by the state of New York for partial conversion to a slower speed boulevard.

Freeway removal is easier said than done, as the general public still values high-speed freeways in their cities. Moreover, will efforts on the Scajaquada and others be enough to revitalize their respective cities? 

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Published on Monday, October 23, 2017 in The New York Times
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