I broke down and got a subscription to the digital version of the New York Times, just because I wanted to read this article:
In case you can’t read the article, here are some high points.
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.
Some, like Syracuse and Detroit, have committed to replacing stretches of interstate with more connected, walkable neighborhoods. Others, like New Orleans and Dallas, are facing pressure from local residents and activists to address the pollution, noise and safety hazards brought by the mega-roads.
President Biden’s infrastructure proposal, Democratic Congressional proposed legislation, and the Department of Transportation all support the initiatives.
Pete Buttigieg, who heads the department, has expressed support for removing barriers that divided Black and minority communities, saying that “there is racism physically built into some of our highways.” Midcentury highway projects often targeted Black neighborhoods, destroying cultural and economic centers and bringing decades of environmental harm.
So what’s the “double-edged” part? Let’s guess. Could it be that, if you take parts of cities that were made undesirable by cutting them up with polluting eyesores and make them healthy and beautiful, people who could live anywhere choose to move in and raise the property values and squeeze out the people disadvantaged by the initial disruption?
Why, yes, I do believe we’ve guessed correctly.
Such “environmental gentrification” can also happen when parks and other greenery are introduced to historically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
So highway removal and replacement with walkways and parks are good for the planet and good for the gentry, but what about the people who were hurt in the first place and damaged in the meantime?
The proposed Democratic legislation hopes to avoid that paradox. The bill would fund community outreach and engagement by local groups. And it prioritizes capital construction grants for projects that include measures like land trusts that would ensure the availability of affordable housing for local residents.
“It’s no longer good enough for us to remove a highway and make a replacement road beautiful,” said Ms. Richards of the Congress for the New Urbanism. “We have to reconnect the neighborhoods and invest in the legacy residents.”Can Removing Highways Fix America’s Cities?
By Nadja Popovich, Josh Williams and Denise Lu
Make it so, Number One!
A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Write about something unpleasant made pleasant with mixed results.