Would Cities Benefit From Tearing Down Elevated Urban Highways?

Syracuse is adding itself to a growing list of cities that want to remove highways running through urban centers. Cities such as Milwaukee and San Francisco successfully tore down highways and ushered in an age of urban development and renewal.

What's the Latest?


Daniel C. Bock of Governing.com has penned an interesting article on the potential benefits of cities tearing town elevated highways that run through urban centers. The idea is simple enough: many of these massive overpasses are aging and no longer serve the purposes for which they were built. Removing them could stimulate urban growth in city centers, replacing off-ramps and parking garages with the sorts of thriving developments that boost local economies. Interstate traffic would be then be rerouted around metropolitan centers in a beltway sort of system.

What's the Big Idea?

As Bock notes, tearing down expressways is a controversial move. Art Agnos lost his job as San Francisco mayor in 1991 due to his support of tearing down the city's Embarcadero Freeway. Despite the public's anger at the time, the expressway was removed and the resulting boulevard that now stands in its place is lauded as a huge success. 

Bock makes sure to mention the potential counter-arguments to tearing down urban highways:

While many planners see these elevated highways as dated eyesores that choke off urban revitalization, replacing them can cost billions and, critics say, worsen traffic congestion -- without any guarantee that removing the roadway will lead to new development.

Of course, maintaining freeways -- aging ones in particular -- is also expensive. But some cities such as Los Angeles are so innately linked to the automobile that getting rid of elevated urban expressways would make little sense. But for a city like Syracuse (which Bock profiles in the article), an urban interstate makes little sense for future growth.

I encourage you to read Bock's article (linked below) and tell us what you think.

Read more at Governing.com

Photo credit: Konstantin Sutyagin / Shutterstock

Big Think Edge
  • The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
  • Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
  • Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.

To boost your self-esteem, write about chapters of your life

If you're lacking confidence and feel like you could benefit from an ego boost, try writing your life story.

Personal Growth

In truth, so much of what happens to us in life is random – we are pawns at the mercy of Lady Luck. To take ownership of our experiences and exert a feeling of control over our future, we tell stories about ourselves that weave meaning and continuity into our personal identity.

Keep reading Show less

Active ingredient in Roundup found in 95% of studied beers and wines

The controversial herbicide is everywhere, apparently.

(MsMaria/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • U.S. PIRG tested 20 beers and wines, including organics, and found Roundup's active ingredient in almost all of them.
  • A jury on August 2018 awarded a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma victim $289 million in Roundup damages.
  • Bayer/Monsanto says Roundup is totally safe. Others disagree.
Keep reading Show less

Ashes of cat named Pikachu to be launched into space

A space memorial company plans to launch the ashes of "Pikachu," a well-loved Tabby, into space.

GoFundMe/Steve Munt
Culture & Religion
  • Steve Munt, Pikachu's owner, created a GoFundMe page to raise money for the mission.
  • If all goes according to plan, Pikachu will be the second cat to enter space, the first being a French feline named Felicette.
  • It might seem frivolous, but the cat-lovers commenting on Munt's GoFundMe page would likely disagree.
Keep reading Show less