Just as more U.S. cities are beginning to see urban highways and parking lots as opportunities for development, Milwaukee is reaping the benefits of its freeway removal efforts, which date back two decades. The 24-acre downtown corridor where the Park East Freeway stood until 2003 has generated $886 million in new investment, and more development is planned.
Rochester, NY, has completed the Inner Loop East highway removal project, bringing the city one step closer to a more vital and connected downtown. The project has opened up six acres of land for new development, and Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren has already endorsed three proposed development projects.
Efforts to duplicate the urban freeway removal success stories of Milwaukee and San Francisco, both of which allowed valuable urban land to be redeveloped, face an uphill battle despite many boosters. The debate between urban boosters and state DOTs that control most urban freeways has recently come to Providence, Rhode Island, with the question of what do to with the 6/10 connector.
Earlier this month, the Texas DOT released CityMAP, a document outlining how the agency might handle Dallas’ aging highways over the next 24 years. Most notably, it could lead to the removal of two major freeways from the downtown entirely.
Thanks to a quarter million dollar environmental justice grant from the California Department of Transportation, the City of Long Beach will now be able to study options for turning its Terminal Island Freeway into a local street, reclaiming 88 acres of land for a network of parks, and improving public health.
After several unsuccessful TIGER applications, Rochester, NY underutilized urban Inner Loop, built in the 1960s, received 17.7 million dollars to facilitate the removal of the expressway and frontage roads and reconstruction as a parkway. A road once disparaged by the city itself as a “noose around the neck of downtown,” has been two decades in planning and will give way to a boulevard that will reconnect the city street grid, improve the business environment, and improve livability for Rochester’s residents.