Top 10 'Freeways Without Futures'

September 28, 2010

The Congress for the New Urbanism, a leading national organization promoting walkable, neighborhood-based development as an alternative to sprawl, today announced its list of the top 10 cities where the opportunity is greatest for removing highways to make way for convenient boulevards and revitalized neighborhoods.

The "Freeways Without Futures" list recognizes places where highways-to-boulevards transformations can help revitalize cities and save taxpayers billions of dollars in highway construction costs.

Through its Highways to Boulevards Initiative with the Center for Neighborhood Technology, CNU has confirmed that successful highways-to-boulevards conversions reconnect neighborhoods, improve access to key resources such as waterfronts, and put underperforming land to use. Cities flourish when neighborhoods and streets are connected and when parks and shops - not highways - connect cities to their waterfronts.

San Francisco, Portland, New York City and Milwaukee have all seen how the removal of freeways allows the rebirth of great city neighborhoods with improved surface streets, better parks, renewed attention to pedestrian and transit amenities, plus an infusion of new private investment bringing housing, shops, restaurants and exciting cultural offerings. Traffic has redistributed efficiently in all cases. Now CNU is identifying 10 cities that have the greatest opportunity to repeat this success.

CNU President and CEO John Norquist says that compared to the prospect of completely rebuilding aging freeways – something that’s inevitable after 40 or 50 years – highways-to-boulevards projects are real money savers. "There’s a whole generation of elevated highways in cities that are at the end of their design life. Instead of rebuilding them at enormous expense, cities have an opportunity to undo what proved to be major urban planning blunders,"said Norquist, Mayor of Milwaukee when it replaced the Park East Freeway with McKinley Boulevard in 2002.

"The Federal Highway Fund just received a short-term bailout. The money that does exist can be invested much more efficiently in surface streets and transit. The development that results is walkable and close to jobs and city life. It helps residents keep a lot of money in their wallets that they’d otherwise spend driving.

"Fifty years ago, when there was flight from cities, industrialized waterfronts seemed like a convenient place to run freeways, Norquist said. "The result for the neighborhoods has been blight. Cities like San Francisco that have removed freeways and reclaimed waterfronts have turned them into magnets for people and investment.

The CNU top 10 prospects for highway teardowns are:

1. Seattle, WA. – The Alaskan Way Viaduct

2. Bronx, NY – Sheridan Expressway

3. Buffalo, NY – The Skyway and Route 5

4. New Haven, CT – Route 34

5. New Orleans, LA – Claiborne Expressway

6. Syracuse, NY – Interstate 81

7. Louisville, KY – Interstate 64

8. Trenton, NJ– Route 29

9. Toronto, Ontario – Gardiner Expressway

10. Washington D.C. – 11th Street Bridges and the Southeast Freeway

Learn more about the prospects for removing freeways in these 10 cities.