(You can also see this story with more photos on the Changing Gears website)
Half a century after cities across our region and country built sprawling freeways, many of those roads are reaching the end of their useful lives.
Instead of rebuilding them, a growing number of cities are thinking about, or actively, removing them. That may come as a surprise.
When Clevelanders hear that the city plans to convert a coastal freeway into a slower, tree-lined boulevard, you get reactions like this one from Judie Vegh:
“I think it’s a pretty bad idea for commuters,” she said. “And if it were 35 mph, I would just be later than usual.”
Within the next few years, Vegh’s commute on Cleveland’s West Shoreway will likely look very different.
Cleveland City Planner Bob Brown says this is not the traditional highway project, "the traditional highway project is obviously speeding things up, adding more capacity, and often ignoring the character of neighborhoods."
It’s quite a change.
In the 1950s and 60s, freeways were seen as progress and modernity. They were part of urban renewal and planners like New York’s Robert Moses tore through neighborhoods to put up hulking steel and concrete roadways.
Today, cities are looking to take them down.
The list is long:
- New Orleans
- New Haven
- San Francisco
These are just some US cities thinking about or actively taking freeways down. You can find more information about these projects on the Changing Gears website.