April 23


Top 6 Freeway Removals

By Mike Spack

April 23, 2014

My buddy Bob sent me this Gizmodo Article about six freeway removals.  The article does a good job of describing the changes and the huge benefits those cities have reaped.

Here are their Top Six Freeway Removals

  1. Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco, CA, USA
  2. Cheonggyecheon, Seoul, South Korea
  3. Harbor Drive, Portland, OR, USA
  4. Park East, Milwaukee, WI, USA
  5. Rio Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  6. Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA, USA

The article touches on the idea of induced demand.  Basically, build it and they will come (build the roads and the cars will show up).  This was my experience in Maple Grove where we widened several minor arterials and the volumes on those roads spiked significantly.  Nearly to our twenty year traffic volume projections overnight.

I’m not going to go all of the way and say we need to rip out our interstate system, but the above examples show how freeway removal increases the vibrancy of a city (or burying the freeway in the case of the hugely expensive Big Dig in Boston, MA, USA).

I know that building I-94 and I-35 in Minneapolis and St. Paul largely changed the landscape of those cities in my hometown region and some interesting redevelopment could happen if they were removed, but I’m not for it.  I can’t imagine making the 16 mile trip from my house to downtown St. Paul on city streets.

  • From an email response to me:

    To follow up on your post, a freeway was also removed here in Quebec City Canada.

    The idea was to give back to the population an access to the St Lawrence River. You can see pictures of the before/after on the following websites, although it’s in French. The new stretch that they made, called Promenade Samuel-de-Champlain, is a fabulous success and they want to do the same on a new stretch of that same road.



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    Mike Spack

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