Mending Interstate Injustice – Freeway Capping Projects


In recent years there has been an effort in some cities to mend some of the wounds of Interstate Highway era gashes that were savagely cut through American cities. A method for healing these scars has been to cap the freeway, essentially by putting it underground.

Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, TX – Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/531424824753696587/?lp=true

Below is a list of those cities where segments of freeways were originally capped at time of construction (shown in bold/parenthesis) or which have been and/or are being proposed to do so now in an attempt to heal the past scars. While a number of uses are identified in the list as being built over the freeways, the most popular appear to be the ones which incorporate a park-like setting. Unfortunately, most of the projects listed are not designed to heal devastated minority neighborhoods that took the brunt of Interstate Highway Injustice. The only freeway capping projects that appear to have this goal at least partly in mind are:

  • Boston – Rose F. Kennedy Greenway
  • Dallas – I-35E through the Oak Cliff neighborhood
  • Denver – I-70 through the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood
  • East Los Angeles – CA 60 through Belvedere Park
  • Pittsburgh – Cap Park over I-579 at the Hill District
  • Seattle – Freeway Park over I-5
  • St. Louis – I-44 along the riverfront
  • St. Paul – I-94 though the Rondo neighborhood

Sadly, there are so many more minority neighborhoods that could use a freeway capping project to help heal the scars of the Interstate Highway Injustice era of the 1950s through the 1980s.

Riverwalk Deck Park in Trenton, NJ – Source: https://cityparksblog.org/tag/trenton-nj/

While most highway capping projects have received positive responses, in at least one case, Denver, the proposal has met with stiff resistance because it is feared the project will harm the adjacent minority neighborhoods even more than the original damage had done. Other concerns have been raised in both Dallas and St. Paul that such a capping project could spur gentrification of the minority neighborhood, rising rents which could force our low-income residents, and the potential for developers to move in and buy up properties for redevelopment.

Proposed deck park in Oak Park, IL – Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/oak-park/news/ct-oak-park-district-i290-tl-0512-20160509-story.html

While this author sees a number of benefits of such freeway capping projects, one cannot help but wonder what the longer term result could be, particularly in those disconnected and divided neighborhoods that just happen to be situated in/near what is now a desirable or trendy location. If the freeway capping project is meant to create a public park, then the benefits will likely apply to all regardless of social, economic, or demographic status. On the other hand, if the freeway capping project is simply meant to be a new way to create more development potential and profits for corporations and the wealthy, then I would be just as wary as those who currently live there.  The proof is in the pudding, as they say.  Peace.

“The Stitch” proposed in Atlantahttps://www.atlantadowntown.com/initiatives/the-stitch

List of Completed, On-going, Proposed, and Concept-stage Freeway Capping Projects

  • Atlanta, GA – proposed 9 acre park over the GA 400 Freeway in Buckhead
  • Atlanta, GA – proposed “The Stitch”mixed use development over I-75/85
  • Atlanta, GA – Atlanta Financial Center over the GA 400 Freeway in Buckhead
  • Austin, TX – proposed Austin Connect over I-35 between downtown and East Austin
  • Boston, MA – Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway “The Big Dig” over I-93
  • Boston, MA – Copley Place mixed use development over I-90 in Back Bay
  • Boston, MA – Prudential Center mixed use development over I-90 in Back Bay
  • Charlotte, NC – possible future cap over I-277
  • Chicago, IL – former Chicago Post Office over I-290 in downtown
  • Cincinnati, OH – proposed Fort Washington Way caps over I-71 between downtown and the riverfront
  • Clyde Hill, WA – Clyde Hill/Yarrow Point Transit Center/Park over WA 520 Freeway
  • Columbus, OH – The Cap at Union Station mixed use development over I-670 between downtown and Short North
  • Dallas, TX – 5.2 acre Klyde Warren Park over I-345/TX 366 between downtown and Uptown
  • Dallas, TX – proposed Southern Gateway Public Green over I-35E in Oak Cliff Neighborhood
  • Denver, CO – proposed 4 acre park over I-70 in Elyria-Swansea Neighborhood
  • Duluth, MN – Jay Cooke Plaza over I-35 (capped at time of construction)
  • Duluth, MN – Lake Place Park over I-35 (capped at time of construction)
  • Duluth, MN – Leif Erikson/Rose Garden Park over I-35 (capped at time of construction)
  • East Los Angeles – possible capping of the CA 60 Freeway to reconnect Belvidere Park
  • Edina, MN – possible 8 acre lid over MN 100 Freeway for mixed use development
  • Fall River, MA – Governmental Center is built over I-195 in downtown
  • Glendale, CA – proposed 24 acre Space 134 Park over the CA 134 Freeway
  • Hartford, CT – proposed freeway cap over I-84
  • Hunts Point, WA – Hunts Point Park over the WA 520 Freeway
  • La Canada-Flintridge, CA – 1.5 acre Memorial Park of I-210
  • Los Angeles, CA – proposed Park 101 over the US 101 Freeway in downtown
  • Los Angeles, CA – proposed 38-44 acre Hollywood Central Park over US 101 Freeway
  • Louisville, KY – Riverfront/Belvedere Plaza built over I-64 in downtown
  • Medina, WA – Evergreen Point Transit Center/Park over the WA 520 Freeway
  • Mercer Island, WA – 90 acre Mercer Island Lid/Aubrey Davis Park over I-90
  • New Haven, CT – proposed Downtown Crossing over CT 34 Freeway
  • Oak Park, IL – proposed 3.1 acre Ike Park cap over I-290
  • Oak Park,MI – 3.7 acre Victoria Park over I-696 (capped at time of construction)
  • Oak Park, MI – 7.2 acre Rothstein Park over I-696 (capped at time of construction)
  • Philadelphia, PA – 1.25 acre Cira Green Rooftop Park and mixed use development over I-76 between downtown and University City
  • Philadelphia, PA – proposed 8 acre park over I-95 between downtown and the riverfront
  • Phoenix, AZ – 32 acre Hance Deck Park over I-10 (capped at time of construction)
  • Pittsburgh, PA – proposed 3 acre Cap Park over I-579 between downtown and The Hill District
  • Richmond, VA – 3 acre Kanawha Plaza Park over I-195 in downtown
  • San Diego, CA – concept for a future park cap over the CA 94 Freeway
  • Santa Monica, CA – proposed 7 acre park cap over I-10 between 14th and 17th Streets
  • Santa Monica, CA – proposed small cap park over I-10 between Ocean Ave. and 4th Street
  • Seattle, WA – 5.2 acre Freeway Park over I-5
  • Seattle, WA – proposed Capital Hill Park over I-5
  • Southfield, MI – 10 acre Lincoln Woods Park over I-696 (capped at time of construction)
  • St. Louis, MO – 0.65 acre Park over the Highway over I-44 between downtown and the Gateway Arch
  • St. Paul, MN – proposed ReConnect Rondo over I-94 between downtown and the Rondo neighborhood
  • Trenton, NJ – 6.5 acre Riverwalk Deck Park over US 29 Freeway between downtown and the riverfront
  • Washington, DC – Capital Crossing Mixed Use Development over I-395 in downtown

SOURCES:

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This entry was posted in Active transportation, adaptive reuse, Advocacy, architecture, Cars, cities, Civil Rights, civility, density, diversity, downtown, economic development, environment, geography, Green roofs, historic preservation, history, humanity, inclusiveness, infrastructure, land use, landscape architecture, pictures, placemaking, planning, poverty, racism, revitalization, social equity, spatial design, sprawl, Statistics, transit, transportation, Travel, tunnels, urban planning, walking, zoning and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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