Case Studies of the Access and Mobility Impact of Freeway Removal
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Case Studies of the Access and Mobility Impact of Freeway Removal

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  • English

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      Throughout the United States, there is a growing movement to remove selected sections of freeways from city centers. Largely seen as a way to restore life and vitality to these areas, this strategy has the potential for numerous benefits including: 1) eliminating a physical and psychological barrier that divides city neighborhoods, 2) opening up land for redevelopment, 3) removing an aesthetic eyesore that takes away from a city’s character, 4) providing direct access to city businesses by restoring road networks and enhancing traffic circulation patterns. Even though the aforementioned benefits are intriguing by themselves, this concept also has the potential to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality within these cities. Removing freeways decreases total vehicle miles traveled by promoting walking, biking and mass transit use. Therefore, freeway removal can be seen as another mechanism to contend with the growing environmental issues facing the world. A handful of freeway sections have been removed or relocated from some cities within the United States and abroad. These cities provide a unique opportunity to investigate how such a major undertaking affects access and mobility of all transportation system users. A surprising view that has emerged is that removing these freeway sections has not resulted in traffic disruption as conventional theory would suggest. Instead, it appears that the overall traffic volume in many of these areas has actually decreased. Much speculation exists as to the cause of these counterintuitive observed outcomes, but the underlying mechanisms are still largely not understood. In order to obtain a more complete model of the effects on the overall transportation system of freeway removal, a detailed analysis of the changes in access and mobility, before and after the freeways were removed, is being performed in our study. Freeway removal projects in 9 cities are listed below as potential candidates for this project. 1. San Francisco, CA 2. Milwaukee, WI 3. Chattanooga, TN 4. Portland, OR 5. New York City, NY 6. Seoul, South Korea 7. Toronto, Canada 8. Boston, MA 9. Paris, France In this paper we summarize the scope and outcomes of these freeway removal projects.
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