A major goal of the stimulus program is to rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges and highways, while at the same time providing good, high-paying jobs for the hard hats out there.
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Unfortunately, we’re not allocating nearly enough money to make a meaningful impact on our road infrastructure, and even if we were, the whole premise is based on some Eisenhower, car-era idea of growth and infrastructure.
If Obama is serious about things like greenhouse gasses, reviving cities and reducing our demand for foreign oil, he should embark on a big plan to tear down ruinous highways. These highways do nothing but disrupt urban centres, while at the same time, hurting all forms of transportation except the car. What’s more, tearing them down would create just as many jobs, and set the stage for the revitalization of cities.
The highways are based on the Congress for New Urbanism 10 North American highways in need for destructuion, or as they call them: Freeways Without Future.
Built in the late 1960s, the Southeast Freeway is a 1.39-mile stretch running through Washington D.C., connecting Interstate 395 to Interstate 295 at the 11th Street Bridges. It was prevented from continuing west due to local opposition at the time.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have not come up a comprehensive plan to reconfigure the freeway. Local transportation groups argue for improving the nearby streets and pedestrian connections in the southeastern section of the district by removing the Southeast Freeway.
Built between 1955 and 1966, Toronto's Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway is a major east-west thoroughfare that connects downtown Toronto to its western suburbs. Its elevated eight lanes separate the city's bustling core from its Lake Ontario waterfront. What was originally built to accommodate 70,000 cars daily now carries around 200,000 and costs $6 to 10 million annually in repairs.
In the 1950s, the northern section of Route 29 was converted to a limited-access, four-lane highway along the Delaware River. The road carries 60,000 vehicles per day, and the extra wide, extra straight lanes lead to a higher than average rate of collisions.
The state has been investigating how to convert 1.8 miles of the highway into a boulevard for years with little success.
Louisville's riverfront park is currently separated from downtown by an elevated, six-lane portion of Interstate 64, which connects with Interstate 65 and Interstate 71 just east of the downtown.
In 2003, the States of Kentucky and Indiana, working with the Federal Highway Administration, approved the Ohio River Bridges Project (ORBP), that adds two new bridges crossing the Ohio River and expands the junction of I-65, I-71, and I-64 in downtown Louisville. The project -- estimated to cost $4.1 billion, with $1.6 billion going towards the expanded 23-lane interchange, commonly known as Spaghetti Junction -- has met severe local opposition.
The construction of Interstate 81 in Syracuse in 1957 destroyed a historic black community and has caused major barriers to development ever since. Roughly 75,000 vehicles a day use I-81 as it runs just east of downtown and connects with I-690. This six-lane structure is near the end of its design life and more attention is being paid to the negative effects that I-81 brings to downtown Syracuse.
In the 1950s, Interstate 10 (I-10) replaced Claiborne Avenue, a tree-lined boulevard that was home to a thriving business district in the Treme neighbourhood. Treme was one of the first free African-American communities and one of the wealthiest before the freeway devastated local businesses, severed connections between residential neighborhoods, and destroyed the live oaks that once lined the broad avenue.
The Unified New Orleans Plan predicts that with the full removal of two miles of the elevated I-10, the city will gain 35 to 40 city blocks that will no longer be blighted by the freeway and 20 to 25 blocks of open space along Claiborne Avenue.
Route 34 begins at the junction of Interstates 95 and 91 and extends on columns into downtown New Haven for 1.1 miles before dropping to grade and continuing as a pair of one-way streets. Built in 1959, Rt. 34 was an urban renewal project, displacing 600 families and 65 businesses to make room for a highway that was never completed. The original plan was to extend the road another 10 miles, but that long section was never built.
As of 2005, 73,900 vehicles traveled on the Connecter per day.
Local groups have been actively campaigning for the replacement of the elevated and paired one-way sections of Route 34 with walkable, pedestrian-friendly streets and blocks.
Built in 1953, the 1.4-mile long, 110-foot tall limited-access Skyway Bridge begins at the Inner Harbor downtown, crosses the Buffalo River and touches down as Route 5 in the Outer Harbor. Route 5 continues for another 2.6 miles as a limited-access expressway built on an embankment of slag.
The highway's oddly configured exit ramps lead to a confusing series of one-way streets that further hinder access to the waterfront. A total of 41,500 vehicles per day travel along this blighted corridor. There is no pedestrian access between downtown and the Outer Harbor.
The highway's designs leaves waterfront access highly restricted and promotes auto-dependent land uses, setting the stage for limited reinvestment on the waterfront.
Built in 1963, the Arthur V. Sheridan Expressway, also known as I-895, was designed by Robert Moses to connect the Bruckner Expressway with the New England Thruway in the Bronx. But local opposition stopped its extension into the New York Botanical Gardens and left the Sheridan as a poorly connected 1.25-mile spur that mars the waterfront along the Bronx River. The Sheridan currently carries 45,000 vehicles per day, less than most of the nearby streets.
Built in 1953, as State Route 99, the Alaskan Way Viaduct is a north-south route alongside Seattle's Elliot Bay and carries approximately 105,000 vehicles per day. In 2001, the Nisqually Earthquake shook the elevated viaduct, necessitating emergency repairs and calling into question its long-term viability. The City of Seattle and the State of Washington have been wrestling with what to do with the ageing, precarious structure ever since.