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Movement to Recognize Damage of Urban Freeways Gains Speed

Several posts over the last couple of weeks build on the growing body of work illuminating the economic, physical, and social damage caused by urban highways.
March 6, 2012, 8am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Robert Steuteville comments on the work of Steve Mouzon of the Original Green blog that extrapolates the reduced real estate values of a one-mile stretch of I-65/70 in Indianapolis to come to a stunning (and perhaps overstated) conclusion about reduced real estate values nationwide, which Mouzon estimates could exceed a trillion dollars - double of the cost of the entire Interstate system. While the debate concerning the results of the original post lives on, its thrust connects to a larger discussion about the broader cost of freeways to urban life.

In a post on his Switchboard blog, Kaid Benfield examines the wider damage caused by the construction of urban highways, which, "destroyed the hearts of African-American communities in the South Bronx, Nashville, Austin, Los Angeles, Durham, and nearly every medium to large American city," and continue to wreak havoc.

Although a case can be made for offsetting benefits of the highway system over time, Benfield relays the stunning historical footnote that, "[President] Eisenhower [credited as the force that implemented the highway system] never intended that the Interstates be built through densely populated cities."

For those that recognize the damage that urban freeways continue to cause, and wish to right their city's historical wrong, Benfield offers resources describing and popularizing freeway replacement success stories and opportunities.

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Published on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 in Better Cities & Towns
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