Can Removing Highways Fix America’s Cities?
By Nadja Popovich, Josh Williams and Denise LuMay 27, 2021
Excerpt: The growing movement has been energized by support from the Biden administration, which has made addressing racial justice and climate change, major themes in the debate over highway removal, central to its agenda.
A growing number of removal projects are grappling with the questions of environmental justice central to Mr. Biden’s proposal. Historically, vulnerable communities have had little say in infrastructure decisions.
When the National Interstate Highway System was built in the 1950s and ’60s, it connected the country like never before. But it plowed through cities with little concern for local effects. State highways and connector roads compounded the damage.
“Highways, freeways, expressways were always hostile to cities,” said Dr. Norton of the University of Virginia. But they were particularly hostile to Black communities.
In cities like Detroit, New Orleans, Richmond, Va., and many more, federal interstates and other highways were often built through thriving Black neighborhoods in the name of “slum clearance.”
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.
Glenn Beck comments: