Removing highways could improve cities without increasing traffic, but it’s tough

So you might’ve noticed that infrastructure is very much in the news right now, as well as how, exactly, it should be addressed. The New York Times recently put together a look at a relatively new infrastructure strategy that’s starting to play out in cities around the country: removing highways. The report shows there could be some major benefits for local residents, and traffic might not be a problem. But there are ways the strategy could backfire.

The report spends some time focusing on Rochester, N.Y., where the city has already removed a major section of freeway around the city’s downtown. After decades in the planning stages and a few more years for removal, the city now has more walkable areas and is working on developing newly available land. And there haven’t been any signs of traffic in and around the area getting worse.

It’s not a complete or overnight success, as some residents have noted it’s taking some time for the area to rebuild and fill up. The story also notes some disappointment in a lack of public spaces.

And this touches on something that concerns people in areas where highways are under consideration for being torn down: not doing so in an equitable way. As the story highlights, many of these highways caused a lot of displacement and tended to cut through and cut off thriving minority communities. While tearing them down could present an opportunity to revitalize these areas, there are concerns it could also lead to gentrification that could push out locals.

Highway removal seems to be a strategy with a lot of potential, but doing so without doing more damage is going to be a difficult thing. Check out the full story for more insight on the possibilities and pitfalls.

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