A scientific consensus has recently emerged suggesting that the dominant 20th century paradigm of solving transportation congestion problems by building more freeways failed. The legacy of the freeway construction era is clearly visible in polluted and congested cities worldwide. To battle these ills, planning academics have been promoting more sustainable built form aligned with dedicated public/active transport provision. Partly as a result of the push coming from academia, a number of cities have sought to remove their freeways and replace the freed up space with alternate transport infrastructure, such as streets and boulevards. To discern if the transportation planning profession is currently undergoing a paradigm shift or whether freeway removal is merely a temporary fad, we have conducted a systematic review of the literature. In this article, we unpack the underlying reasons which have led some cities to removing their freeways. Results reveal that a paradigm shift has arguably not yet taken place in transportation planning. While many cities are creating human-scale and active transport spaces, currently these spaces tend to coexist alongside freeways. American cities, which were once the pioneers of freeway construction, appear to be lagging behind cities in Europe and Asia in this respect. If the current pace of freeway removal continues, it may take several more decades before the transportation planning profession adopts radically different norms, methods, and goals. However, a radical approach may need to be taken sooner given alarming global warming predictions.
Title: Why are cities removing their freeways? A systematic review of the literature
Authors: Fahimeh Khalaj, Dorina Pojani, Neil Sipe, Jonathan Corcoran
Journal: Transport Reviews
Link to article: doi-org.ezproxy.library.uq.edu.au/10.1080/01441647.2020.1743919
Link to UQ Media release: www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2020/04/failed-freeways-are-road-nowhere