A How-To for ‘Freeway Fighters’

Ten recommendations for effective freeway removal advocacy.

Read Time: 1 minute

August 11, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Dallas Freeways

Omer Rana / Shutterstock

Writing in Strong Towns, Jay Arzu outlines 10 recommendations for “aspiring freeway fighters” who want to support highway removal initiatives.

First, Arzu emphasizes focusing on neighborhood reconnection and reinvestment as a key goal. “These areas will be affected the most by the deconstruction of the highway, and residents could be displaced if the area becomes too desirable. To mitigate the issues these communities will face, they must be partners from the start of the project, not the middle,  and certainly not to check off a box.” The second recommendation also stresses the importance of community input and equity in the planning and implementation process.

Other recommendations include reducing focus on traffic data (which typically favors keeping highways), aligning design with the city’s existing street grid, providing ample visual representations of what the neighborhood could look like without the freeway, and working with local land banks. Steutenville also encourages freeway fighters to become involved in local transportation planning efforts as professionals and elected officials. “In the future, our State DOTs must operate with a deeper focus on eliminating vehicle miles traveled, reconnecting communities, and improving pedestrian safety.”

Ultimately, Arzu points out, “no highway is permanent!” Successful projects have already been undertaken in several cities, showing that reversing the highway-building trend and starting to heal the scars left on urban neighborhoods is possible.

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