News Roundup: Highway Edition

Wisconsin DOT's $1.7 billion "Zoo Interchange" proposal.

Wisconsin DOT's $1.7 billion "Zoo Interchange" proposal.

Highway Revolts Break Out Across the Midwest (Streetsblog)

Leaders in Midwestern state governments--both politicians and DOT officials--haven't all caught on to the drop in vehicle miles and the shift away from car dependence over the last decade, but their constituents have. From St Louis to Cleveland to Detroit, regular people are rising up against the endless flow of money toward ever-grander and more exp(a/e)nsive highway projects as transit, pedestrian, and bicycle infrastructure, at mere fractions of the cost of road-building, is denounced as too expensive. Midwesterners aren't buying it.

If You Can Repeatedly Close a Freeway For Months At a Time, Do You Really Need It At All? (Urbanophile)

And the award for Best Article Title of the Month goes to Aaron M. Renn. Using a downtown freeway in Indianapolis as his case study, Renn notes that the road was completely shut down for three months, and that the carmageddon that was expected never materialized (much like in Los Angeles). Now they're shutting it down for a few more months for additional surface work, and you can't help but wonder, if shutting it down doesn't cause any significant problems, couldn't that road space be put to better use?

"The Columbia River Crossing is dead" (Bike Portland)

Jonathan Maus has been diligently chronicling the progress (and many flaws) of the stuck-in-the-80s multi-billion dollar CRC bridge replacement program spanning the border between Washington and Oregon, but it looks like what ultimately killed it was the intransigence of a Republican-led Washington State Senate. They didn't put together a transportation bill during their most recent session, and without any money allocated to the CRC it will have to begin winding down after over $170 million spent on planning. It's unfortunate that the failure was more the result of Republican opposition to light rail than massively wasteful road spending, and that Seattle transit will also suffer from lack of a transportation bill, but a bad project is now off the books and that's definitely reason to celebrate.

Cleveland Revisits 1960s With Urban Renewal-Style “Opportunity Corridor” (Streetsblog)

One of the Midwestern Highway Revolts is taking place in Cleveland over the hilariously inaptly named "Opportunity Corridor," set to cut through one of the poorest and most dis-invested parts of the city. The goal is to allow suburban residents to reach the city core at the expense of actual Cleveland residents, which sounds like a pretty bad deal to me. Not that you need to hear anything besides the name to know this plan is a stinker: has anything so euphemistically named ever actually been good for the people its being sold to?

The End of Car Culture (New York Times)

I'm including this because it fits the same narrative as the highway-oriented articles above. Namely, that people are coming around to the idea that cars are not the path to economic prosperity. (Also, it's always nice to see a big guy like the NYT giving these issues some airtime.) There's also an interesting bit of information in there: though the share of people under 35 has declined since 1983, those 55 years of age and older are more likely to drive than they used to. Seniors over the age of 70 have seen an especially large increase, up to 80% from 55% just thirty years ago.