Tear down that freeway

As a Boston guy, it’s been interesting to have lived through the Big Dig and what could arguably be described as one of transportation’s biggest clusterfucks.

But the idea of the big dig, separated out from its execution, is a necessity for cities destroyed by the Federal Highway System. There’s no denying that the big dig has transformed the city of Boston and that blueprint is working for other cities as well. 

“Widening roads to solve traffic congestion is like loosening your belt to cure obesity,” says Walter Kulash, a traffic engineer from Orlando, Fla. Kulash argues for more smaller streets and roads rather than huge limited-access interstate highways. He’s for choice. He believes travelers should be offered options. Government should invest in streets, sidewalks, transit, and bike paths instead of devoting almost all of its tax money to huge, highly engineered expressways.

big-dig-before-afterPreserve Net is a site that documents cities such as San Francisco, Portland, Milwaukee and Toronto (curiously Boston is absent from their site; one would think Boston would be the lead subject in this sort of debate for all it’s successes and follies) that have transformed themselves by tearing down elevated highways.

In many cases these cities have reinvigorated the connection between the seaport and the downtown sectors.  Though Boston’s urban renewal plans leave me feeling ho-hum in their design, there is no denying that tearing down the Southeast Expressway, moving it below the cityscape, has radically transformed an entire section of the city. 

Other cities are planning on following the examples of these cities to take their cities back from the monstrosity of highways.  Transportation design is going to become incredibly important in the growing years, as it incorporates railways, bike paths, roads, energy corridors all to keep people moving congestion free with minimal environmental impact.

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