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New Haven next to boulevardize a freeway

In 1957, New Haven tore down a neighborhood near its waterfront to build a freeway. It created a barrier between downtown and Union Station, cut off streets, created dark shadows under huge ramps, and fostered more car-oriented and pedestrian-unfriendly development in the hospitals and huge parking garages that were built there.

Pre-freeway, post-freeway, and hopefully post-post-freeway.

The freeway never went anywhere, with other neighborhoods successfully fighting the destruction that the freeway wreaked on Oak Street. Now, Tri-State Transportation Campaign reports that New Haven is proposing to tear down the freeway, develop new mixed-use buildings in the space, and reconnect the street grid.

Why is Washington DC's Mayor instead intent not only on keeping those freeways that should be boulevardized, like the Whitehurst, but also rebuilding long-gone roads through our parks?

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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There should be a freeway there or maybe underground, however you look at it no boulevard or avenue can handle they same amount of cars that a freeway can.

No matter what you do will fix the traffic unless you go underground. Getting rid of a Freeway or a highway and replacing it with a boulevard will only make the traffic go to the surrounding streets and make those more congested; whatever you do you will either create more traffic problems for the sake of beauty or the other way around.

When you look at this as a whole you can see that it may make the area better looking but it will hurt other areas around it.

Whatever you do if you get rid of a freeway build something such as a stadium or a group of buildings it will hurt the surrounding areas it may be with property values, traffic, crime etc. there are countless different ways that something can effect an area, even if building larger roads that can accomidate the traffic but at the expense of people trying to cross the street.

There should be people looking at how it effects the area not before or doing the demolition but after to.

by kvan on Mar 28, 2008 5:01 pm • linkreport

Kvan: That assumes that traffic is the same no matter what is built or unbuilt. Since the 1950s we have learned this is not the case.

As one example, if we replace the freeway with housing, some of the people who now drive on the freeway to work will live there and walk to work instead. Other people may take the train (which stops right nearby), and perhaps the added development can generate enough tax revenue to fund more train or bus service. There are many ways that building walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods reduces the need for freeways.

by David Alpert on Mar 28, 2008 5:06 pm • linkreport

David, perhaps you should highlight in greater detail some current highway closings and their effects, such as the St. Louis downtown closure.

by NikolasM on Mar 28, 2008 5:17 pm • linkreport

David , I see exactly what your saying.

However sometimes there is not a train station or train system near or any space for development within an area or within a reasonable distance of that area.

by Kvan on Mar 28, 2008 5:35 pm • linkreport

There sure is in New Haven. But also, many cities (like Dallas) are building light rail. Then they have a train! The land used by the freeway can even be used for the right-of-way for the train.

by David Alpert on Mar 28, 2008 5:47 pm • linkreport

As a resident in New Haven, I support this plan; but we're certainly not "next." Absolutely no funding has been secured for this project; in fact, the state of Connecticut hasn't even signed on, let alone the feds.

by DingDong on Mar 31, 2008 2:10 pm • linkreport

Deck the freeway over to build your new real estate development. Thankfully it's depressed, rather then an elevated thing.

Bulldozing its right of way will not bring back the buildings that were lost to urban renewal (removal), and it would reduce serviceability to far more people then gained by the new development.

by Douglas Willinger on Apr 17, 2008 2:52 pm • linkreport

Please be sure to note that the new development is far more dense then what was their pre-freeway era, and that the downtown 34 freeway segment's depressed design is ideal for new development to be built atop, with the below ground freeway allowing for a friendlier urban environment via diverting traffic away from surface street area.

by Douglas Willinger on Oct 3, 2009 2:36 am • linkreport

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