Highways to Boulevards

America's twentieth century highway building era included elevated freeways which cut huge swaths across our cities, decimating neighborhoods and reducing quality of life for city residents. This massive concrete infrastructure had devastating effects on urban economies. It blighted adjacent property and pushed access to basic amenities further out. With the Federal and State Departments of Transportation confronting shrinking budgets and cities looking for ways to increase their revenues, it is an ideal time to offer less expensive, urban alternatives to the reconstruction of urban expressways.

New York City, Portland, San Francisco, Milwaukee and Seoul, South Korea have confronted this problem by replacing elevated highways with boulevards, saving billions of dollars and increasing real estate values on adjacent land. The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) believes that teardowns offer an attractive option for cities struggling with aging highway infrastructure. The strategies are proving themselves in adding value and restoring urban neighborhoods decimated by highway construction.

Resources for Activists and Professionals

Highways To Boulevards for Advocates | Video Series
Latest Research and Publications
The Basics of a Freeway Replacement Campaign
With Cary Moon (Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct), Peter Park (Milwaukee's Park East), and Lucy Gibson (New Orleans' I-10), and CNU's John Norquist

Wired Magazine's Adam Rogers highlights CNU’s Highways to Boulevards initiative in this amazingly energetic and spot-on video, Observation Deck: How Tearing Up Highways Could Make Better Cities.

For an example of how tearing down a highway can "let a city breathe again," read this excellent piece on Seoul from Kamala Rao of Grist.

Image Credit: Nora Beck, DanH

Model Cities

San Francisco

Freeways Without Futures

Video Contest Winners

CNU Campaigns


The Highways to Boulevards Initiative has been made possible by the generous support of the Ford Foundation, Surdna Foundation, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and the members of the Congress for the New Urbanism.