The Congress for New Urbanism has released a report called “Freeways Without Futures,” a look at ten limited-access highways that run through urban areas that, according to the report’s authors, should be replaced with surface boulevards to encourage urban devlopment. They are:
1. Alaskan Way Viaduct, Seattle, Wash.
2. Sheridan Expressway, Bronx, N.Y.
3. The Skyway and Route 5, Buffalo, N.Y.
4. Route 34, New Haven, Conn.
5. Claiborne Expressway, New Orleans, La.
6. Interstate 81, Syracuse, N.Y.
7. Interstate 64, Louisville, Ky.
8. Route 29, Trenton, N.J.
9. Gardiner Expressway, Toronto, Ontario
10. 11th Street Bridges and the Southeast Freeway, Washington, D.C.
In many cases, such as with the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the freeways traverse the cities’ waterfronts, discouraging development, which the authors argue was not a priority when many of the highways were built. Enabled by the affordability of cars and a growing sense that trucking would link population centers and outlying areas with goods, residents began fleeing cities 50 years ago and planners launched massive freeway projects to accommodate through and local traffic. Some of the freeways, such as the I-10 Claiborne Expressway in New Orleans, the authors argue, contributed to the blight in those neighborhoods that would follow. Now that the population trend has reversed in many areas, with younger residents flocking back to larger cities, a focus on redevelopment is needed, they argue.
While most of the routes singled out are not major through-truck lanes, local haulers utilize most of them frequently, and it’s perhaps significant to note that “>truck” is not to be found mentioned a single time in the report. For more roads reading, take a look at Overdrive’s annual Worst Roads survey, ranking the worst, and the best, of highways the nation over, from your point of view: the last one came out in January 2008, and another is due soon.