Rethinking Highway Expansions

The tide may be turning—albeit slowly—against new road construction and expansion in favor of more climate-friendly alternatives.

2 minute read

September 26, 2022, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

While many transportation agencies continue to expand highways, some major cities are shifting away from building more roads, bucking decades of car-centric planning. As Jared Brey reports in Governing, a few isolated cases are raising hopes that highway expansion will no longer be the status quo.

In Denver, a new rule from the Colorado Department of Transportation requiring metro areas to measure their greenhouse gas emissions prompted the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) to reconsider plans to expand Interstate 25, opting instead to “focus on safety and traffic flow improvements over making the road bigger.”

Another notorious project, the proposed expansion of the 710 corridor in Los Angeles—a key route from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to distribution centers—was officially canceled this May after decades of activism from local communities who experienced harmful health effects. According to the article, “Community groups created their own alternative plan for the 710 freeway, which focused on clean-energy transport of goods, public transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, improvements to the L.A. River — and no new general-purpose traffic lanes.”

Unfortunately, Brey points out that Denver and L.A. are still exceptions to the rule, and billions in federal infrastructure funding are still being funneled to road expansion projects around the country. Planetizen recently highlighted the annual Highway Boondoggles report, which details some of the biggest and most wasteful highway expansion and construction projects in the nation.

Friday, September 23, 2022 in Governing

Large blank mall building with only two cars in large parking lot.

Pennsylvania Mall Conversion Bill Passes House

If passed, the bill would promote the adaptive reuse of defunct commercial buildings.

April 18, 2024 - Central Penn Business Journal

Rendering of wildlife crossing over 101 freeway in Los Angeles County.

World's Largest Wildlife Overpass In the Works in Los Angeles County

Caltrans will soon close half of the 101 Freeway in order to continue construction of the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing near Agoura Hills in Los Angeles County.

April 15, 2024 - LAist

Workers putting down asphalt on road.

U.S. Supreme Court: California's Impact Fees May Violate Takings Clause

A California property owner took El Dorado County to state court after paying a traffic impact fee he felt was exorbitant. He lost in trial court, appellate court, and the California Supreme Court denied review. Then the U.S. Supreme Court acted.

April 18, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Sunset view of downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota skyline.

Minneapolis as a Model for Housing Affordability

Through a combination of policies, the city has managed to limit the severity of the nationwide housing crisis.

57 minutes ago - Brown Political Review

Row of yellow Pacers Bikeshare bikes at station in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana.

Indy Bikeshare System Turns 10, Expands to E-Bikes

Pacers Bikeshare riders logged over 700,000 rides since the system launched in 2014.

1 hour ago - Indy Today

Aeriel view of white sheep grazing on green grass between rows of solar panels.

Coming Soon to Ohio: The Largest Agrivoltaic Farm in the US

The ambitious 6,000-acre project will combine an 800-watt solar farm with crop and livestock production.

2 hours ago - Columbus Dispatch

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.