Guest essay by Eric Worrall
President Biden’s infrastructure plan includes $20 billion to pour landfill into major access roads to cities, to eliminate racist community divides, reduce CO2 emissions, and revitalise inner cities by ensuring people who work in cities are incentivised to live near their workplaces.
Can Removing Highways Fix America’s Cities?
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Built in the 1950s to speed suburban commuters to and from downtown, Rochester’s Inner Loop destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, replacing them with a broad, concrete trench that separated downtown from the rest of the city.
Now, the city is looking to repair the damage. It started by filling in a nearly-mile-long section of the sunken road, slowly stitching a neighborhood back together. Today, visitors of the Inner Loop’s eastern segment would hardly know a highway once ran beneath their feet.
As midcentury highways reach the end of their life spans, cities across the country are having to choose whether to rebuild or reconsider them. And a growing number, like Rochester, are choosing to take them down.
In order to accommodate cars and commuters, many cities “basically destroyed themselves,” said Norman Garrick, a professor at the University of Connecticut who studies how transportation projects have reshaped American cities.
“Rochester has shown what can be done in terms of reconnecting the city and restoring a sense of place,” he said. “That’s really the underlying goal of highway removal.”
The growing movement has been energized by support from the Biden administration, which has made addressing racial justice and climate change, major themes in the debate over highway removal, central to its agenda.
…Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/05/27/climate/us-cities-highway-removal.html
According to Neighbourhood Scout, Rochester has double the violent crime rate of New York as a whole, around 7.5 violent crimes per 1000 residents per annum. So if you spend 10 years in Rochester, you have around a one in ten chance of being mugged or raped.
Obviously the source of violence is the sense of distance the drug psychos feel towards cashed up workers, who selfishly roll up their windows and race home to the safety of suburbs or small towns, locked in their armoured CO2 emitting gasoline powered four wheeled bubbles, when they could spending more time in the community, helping to build a better Rochester.
Ripping up highways, bringing down barriers, so everyone can mingle together. That’s what Biden and Buttigieg appear to want. I bet their vision for a climate friendly future even includes evening singalongs in the new parks which stretch where gasoline powered automobiles once raced down highways, like a permanent carnival where children can play and adults build bonds with other members of the community, over coffee and vegan snacks.
Obviously there are a few unanswered questions, like how the coffee and muffin ingredients get delivered if delivery trucks can no longer make it through the traffic snarl. But perhaps this is what Biden means by green jobs – an amazing new opportunity for teams of climate friendly bicycle couriers, who can unload delivery trucks at the edge of cities, and deliver goods the old fashioned way along all those new bicycle tracks. Or perhaps they will revitalise inner city metros, like the old Rochester subway (see above).
Are you feeling the love yet?