How many times has it been repeatedly demonstrated that urban highway construction projects have far too often been used as a tool for so-called “urban renewal?” Urban renewal in this context meaning an illicit tool for bulldozing historically African-American, Latino, as well as other poor and minority neighborhoods.
Well, apparently the Shreveport city leaders couldn’t be bothered by such historical guidance, as this week they okayed a much-maligned plan to blitzkrieg a new segment of interstate highway I-49 through portions of the historic African-American Allendale neighborhood on the city’s near northside.
This past spring, Strong Towns published an excellent series of articles detailing the folly of such a decision. Apparently, the powers that be do not care…or do not read. They certainly are not learning from history.
Countless examples from across the nation in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and beyond show minority neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by urban highway projects under in the guise of urban renewal or economic development. Instead, inner city neighborhoods are shattered and the social and economic fabric of the city is torn apart.
Unfortunately for Shreveport, city leaders may have to learn the hard way, that scarring your city for cars has a lot more negative consequences than positive ones. It’s frustrating that they have to harm the citizens of Allendale (and frankly the health of the entire city) while learning this hard lesson, especially when all they have to do is look at Buffalo, Syracuse, Detroit, Cincinnati, Chicago, Los Angeles, Jacksonville, Birmingham, St. Louis, and countless other cities to see the outcome will not be rosy…unless economic development and transportation improvement weren’t the real intent in the first place.