As counter-intuitive as it may sound, these five cities have seen lesser traffic, safer roads, and have become more efficient after they ripped out the freeways. Some of these highway systems were built back in the automotive obsessed era of the 60s and the 70s, but soon enough the people realized how they have rendered their cities multifunctional and devastated.
Many cities have looked to removed the freeways, with the US Department of Transportation even introducing an initiative that iterated on the need to bridge the inequality caused by the urban freeways.
The cars that once trod on the highways are redirected towards more spacious streets using a theory called “induced demand.” Following these principles, these five major cities have removed freeways from their cities and replaced them with gorgeous parks, paths, and streets.
1) Embarcadero Freeway, San Francisco
Believe it or not; an ugly freeway ran right through today’s most scenic views of the bay. The Loma Prieta quake damaged the State Route 480 in 1989, which led to complete demolition in 1991. Bringing down the double-decker freeway resulted in a triumph for downtown San Francisco which saw the building of public space, availability of walking and bike paths, new transit routes at much lower prices and increased property values.
2) Cheonggyecheon, Seoul
Seoul hosts one of the most transformative freeway tearing projects which saw not only the removal of a dirty highway from a city center but also the revival of a lost waterway. The elevated highway was built through Seoul in 1976 to boost economic prospects in a low-lying area. But in 2003, the city’s mayor moved to take down the freeway and refurbished it into green space, along with naturalizing the creek passing beside it.
The Greenway is a major tourist attraction now. It hosts a wide range of birds, fish, and other wildlife. Fewer people are now driving into the city, choosing to take public transit or other options.
3) Harbor Drive, Portland
A six-laned Route 99 ran along the Willamette River in the 1950s. The highway was taken over by newer and better roads, while led to its demolition in 1974. This demolition resulted in the opening of wide space stretches along the riverfront.
Thanks to that decision, Portland is now one of the best cities for river access and the area now hosts several parks along with the creation of additional public space and a revitalized river.
4) Rio Madrid, Madrid
Madrid’s Manzanares River was marred by two large spans of the M-30 freeway built along its banks. Then, a plan was formed to revitalize the river in the early 2000s, which was implemented in 2011.
The highway traffic was rerouted through several underground tunnels, and the banks of the historic river were redeveloped into a 300-acre park entailing recreational centers, running and biking trails, skate parks, and even an urban beach.
5) Alaskan Way, Seattle
The Alaskan Way in Seattle, too, was removed after an earthquake, which was severely damaged in 2001 and required complete overhauling up to new seismic standards. The roads are now instead taken underground.
The project is scheduled to be completed by next year. It will create new connections between the local neighborhoods and the waterfront and will open public space and pedestrian walkways to the residents.
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