Case Study of the Access and Mobility Impact of Freeway Removal

In cities across the United States and abroad there is a growing movement to remove selected sections of freeways. Freeway removal is seen largely as a strategy to restore vitality to central cities. Advocates argue that freeway removal brings numerous benefits including i) removing a physical and psychological barrier that separates urban neighborhoods, ii) opening up land for reclamation, iii) removing a source of blight, iv) improving circulation patterns for travel by restoring street networks and providing direct access to surrounding businesses. Although such changes are compelling in and of themselves, freeway removal has lately taken on even greater significance as issues surrounding energy security and global warming rise to the forefront of public discourse. Largely for the reasons listed in the last paragraph, freeway removal is also seen as a way to reduce vehicle miles traveled, by facilitating walking, biking and transit use. Therefore, there is good reason to view freeway removal as one more tool for combating energy dependence and reducing carbon emissions. We feel that the handful of freeway teardown projects that have been completed in the United States and abroad represents a unique opportunity to study how such a major intervention affects both access and mobility of all potential users of the transportation system. Planners in a long list of cities that are at various stages of studying freeway teardown have very little concrete information to guide their decisions - especially with regard to the transportation impact. An emerging view is that freeway teardown or reconfiguration does not appear to have resulted in the disruption that conventional wisdom might predict. There is much speculation about why this is the case, but little understanding of the underlying mechanisms that affect the observed outcomes. A detailed study of the changes in access and mobility before and after freeway teardown in a number of specific cities will allow us to develop a more complete picture of the overall effect on the transportation system.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Contract Numbers:



    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Research and Innovative Technology Administration

      Department of Transportation
      1200 New Jersey Avneue, SE
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Performing Organizations:

      Connecticut Technology Transfer Center

      University of Connecticut, Storrs
      179 Middle Turnpike, Unit 5202
      Storrs, CT  United States  06269-5202
    • Principal Investigators:

      Garrick, Norman

    • Start Date: 20090401
    • Expected Completion Date: 0
    • Actual Completion Date: 20110831
    • Source Data: RiP Project 24544

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01480769
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: New England University Transportation Center
    • Contract Numbers: DTRT07-G-0001, UCNR21-9
    • Files: UTC, RiP
    • Created Date: May 7 2013 1:01AM