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

Red on white 'Room for Rent, Inquire Inside' sign

In Most U.S. Cities, Archaic Laws Limit Roommate Living

Critics argue laws preventing unrelated adults from living in the same home fail to understand the modern American household.

May 24, 2023 - The Atlantic

Vancouver Chuck Wolfe

Ten Signs of a Resurgent Downtown

In GeekWire, Chuck Wolfe continues his exploration of a holistic and practical approach to post-pandemic urban center recovery, anchored in local context and community-driven initiatives that promote livability, safety, and sustainability.

May 24, 2023 - GeekWire

New York MTA subway station

Off-Peak is the New On-Peak

Public transit systems in major U.S. cities are starting to focus on non-rush hour travelers as pre-pandemic commuting patterns shift and transportation needs change.

May 19, 2023 - Curbed

View of Colorado River from top of Hoover Dam with concrete column on left

The New Colorado River Deal: An Explainer

According to one analyst, the agreement approved by the states doesn’t go nearly far enough to protect the river in the long term.

23 minutes ago - The Land Desk

View of cars stuck in gridlocked traffic with traffic lights in background

Research Indicates the Large Potential Benefits of Parking Cash-Out Laws

‘Free’ employee increases driving. Parking cash-out laws reward commuters who use climate-friendly modes, which increases fairness and reduces traffic problems.

2 hours ago - An Assessment of the Expected Impacts of City-Level Parking Cash-Out and Commuter Benefits Ordinances

Close-up photo of Megan Kimble against blurry green background with title "A journalist's take on planning"

Through the Eyes of a Journalist: Megan Kimble Reflects on Covering Food Systems, Zoning Changes, and Highway Projects in the Southwest

Kimble’s interest in topics related to urban planning spawned from research and writing about food systems in the borderlands of Arizona. She then moved to Austin in the midst of the city’s update of its Land Development Code.

4 hours ago - The Planning Commission Podcast

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.