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The Highway Hit List

The U.S. has no shortage of urban interstates ripe for removal, and some tear-downs are already underway. But planners should tread carefully when “reconnecting” neighborhoods.
Rochester's Inner Loop, prior to being filled-in.
Rochester's Inner Loop, prior to being filled-in. Stratus Imaging/Congress for New Urbanism

Built in the federal highway-building heyday of the early 1960s, Buffalo’s Scajaquada Expressway offered commuters an unusually scenic high-speed trip into the city: The highway’s planners routed the four-lane thoroughfare right through the middle of Delaware Park, the crown jewel of an ambitious city-wide network of parks and parkways designed by celebrated landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead and his partner Calvert Vaux in the 19th century.

This worked out fine for drivers, somewhat less so for park users: The highway split the park in two, forcing joggers and strollers to share the bucolic space with an impenetrable wall of high-speed traffic. Calls to remove or reroute the highway went nowhere, until a horrific car crash in 2015 inspired lawmakers and activists to finally take action, as CityLab’s Sarah Goodyear reported at the time. Speed limits came down, and now construction is set to begin on a park-friendlier “Scajaquada Boulevard.”