Destroying Highways to Rebuild Cities

viaduct1sm.jpgHartford’s Aetna Viaduct, which the Courant called a "mistake" that has "cut the city in half." Photo from Capital Region of Governments.

Today on the Streetsblog Network, Mobilizing the Region is talking about highway removal. Specifically, the proposed teardown or reinvention of the 40-year-old Aetna Viaduct in Hartford, CT, which has already outlived its projected lifespan. Now the Hartford Courant has become a proponent of the idea that getting rid of the road could transform Connecticut’s capital city:

When ConnDOT initially proposed to repair and prop up the viaduct, civic groups, businesses, and neighborhood associations, led by Tri-State board member Toni Gold, urged the State and City to rethink the plans.  Four years later, ConnDOT, Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez and the advocates have secured federal and city funding to conduct an alternatives study that would analyze whether decking, boulevarding or diverting the current highway traffic is possible.

A teardown of the Viaduct, the newspaper wrote, could be “one of the greatest feats of civic activism in the city’s long history.”

The Aetna Viaduct, which divides some Hartford neighborhoods from the city center, wasn’t on the list that Congress for the New Urbanism released last year of the 10 North American highways most in need of demolition. There are bound to be more worthy examples out there. If you have any targets in mind, let us know about them in the comments.

San Francisco Transit Oriented Design has a related post that looks at the history of highway construction in that city.

Plus: Sustainable Savannah on the continuing saga of the city’s jaywalking crackdown; Tempe Bicycle Action Group warns of bike thefts (and shady bike sales) along the light rail line there; and Trains for America reports on high speed rail fever in Oklahoma.

  • Micah K

    Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Interstate 244 permanently reinforced a dividing line between largely black North Tulsa and the remainder of the city. Very nice communities that once thrived in the vicinity of the interstate were abandoned by middle-class whites caught north of the interstate. The result was particularly damaging to the neighborhoods just north of downtown Tulsa, even including those surrounding the city’s first country club, which include many of Tulsa’s first mansions and estates. As a result, “north” Tulsa is no longer connected to the economic and cultural life of the rest of the city.

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