Freeway Removal Goes Mainstream: A Survey of Projects

Ferry Building and Embarcadero, circa 1960
Before: SF's Embarcadero Freeway cutting through the city (Telstar Logistics)
After: Where there was once a freeway, a park is part of the redevelopment in SF. (Seattle Weekly)

When I first started researching  freeway removal, I had no idea it was being considered or completed in so many cities. It looks like the anti-freeway activists of the 1960s and 70s are now finding their views in the mainstream. Every project is different. Some replace freeways with waterfront parks. Others use the land for new developments like hotels. Some cities like Boston and Seattle bury the roadway underground to make the land more attractive, without impeding traffic. Below is a list of some of the major projects that are done or under consideration:

Major Projects:

Milwaukee: Park East Freeway

San Francisco: Embarcadero Freeway – Removed after earthquake damage

San Francisco: Central Freeway

Seattle, Washington: Alaskan Way Viaduct (in progress)

Watch a satirical ad Seattle’s mayor made to shore up support for the project.

New Haven, CT: Route 34

Portland, OR: Harbor Drive (Perhaps the earliest major freeway removal)

Seoul, South Korea: Samil Elevated Expressway (turned into an interesting park)

Paris, France: Pompidou Expressway

Under Consideration:

New Orleans, LA: Claiborne Avenue Expressway

Syracuse, NY: I-81

Buffalo, NY: Skyway (looks like plan has stalled)

Bronx, NY: Sheridan Expressway

Louisville, KY: I-64

What do you think? Are freeways as necessary as they were 50 years ago? Are cities better off without them? Is there an expressway you’d like to see gone? Or, are these highways still important for mobility? Tell us in comments.


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