America's twentieth century highway building era included freeways which cut huge swaths through our cities. Vibrant, diverse and functioning neighborhoods were bifurcated by their construction, devastating communities and reducing quality of life for city residents.
As Federal and State Departments of Transportation confront shrinking budgets and cities look for ways to increase their revenues, replacing freeways with surface streets has gained recognition as both a practical alternative to rebuilding expensive expressways and as a means to restore and revitalize communities. Cities as diverse as Portland, San Francisco, Milwaukee and Seoul, South Korea have successfully replaced urban highways with boulevards and surface streets, saving billions of dollars in infrastructure costs, increasing real estate values on adjacent land and restoring urban neighborhoods decimated by highway construction.
Community and political leaders have the potential to be advocates for transformation, as urban freeways and their adjacent corridors can be transformed from broken liabilities into assets that support socially and economically valuable places.
Model Cities highlight the potential impacts and benefits of urban highway removal. Each example provides useful insights into the political and social capital necessary for a successful removal effort and serves as inspiration for future highway removal projects.
CNU Campaigns are highway removal efforts in which CNU, CNU members and allies are actively engaged.