Freeway Fighters Digest (week of 10/9)

Lauren MayerWeekly News Digest

Hi all,

Here is what is being said about freeway fighting this week. If you come across any articles, feel free to share and please let me know if you have any questions.

You may have seen the news the previous week that Caltrans is suspected of illegally using funds for highway maintenance to expand highways, undermining the state’s public climate commitments (the whistleblower who brought this to light was also subsequently demoted). The revelation is pretty damning and is a look under the hood as to how state DOTs operate with impunity when it comes to highway building.

A coalition of allies in California is now calling for Governor Newsom to investigate this malpractice and to pause highway expansion projects throughout the state until it is completed.  The coalition has asked for national support in convincing Governor Newsom this is the right thing to do and we at America Walks have drafted a sign-on letter echoing their demands to share with the Freeway Fighters Network (and beyond). A moratorium on highway expansions in California has the potential to be a model for other states.

We’re collecting organizational signatures for the letter through Wednesday, October 18th at 12:00pm ET and you can sign on through this link.

Freeway Fighters News

An Akron Highway Cut Off a Black Community. The City Is Trying to Fix It. – WSJ
Wall Street Journal October 7, 2023
Akron is now trying to reimagine a mile-long section of the city’s Innerbelt freeway that devastated several neighborhoods.  

How to Support the Ambitious ‘Marina Central Park’ Freeway Removal Study
Streetsblog LA October 7, 2023
Streets for All (SFA) recently released a dramatic proposal for removing the three-mile-long Marina Freeway (State Route 90) to create a new Marina Central Park – with housing, parks, bus rapid transit, and bikeways – all where the six-plus lane freeway stands today. 

Detroit Today: Reckoning with the construction and rebuild of I-375 – WDET 101.9 FM
WDET October 8, 2023
In the early 1960s, I-375 was created. 

Caltrans Demotes Official Who Challenged Road Expansion Projects | Planetizen News
Planetizen October 8, 2023
According to a Politico article by Debra Kahn, a top official in California’s Department of Transportation (Caltrans) alleges that she was reassigned for blowing the whistle on Sacramento-area road expansion projects that she claims circumvented environmental regulations. 

$217 million plan would reshape downtown KC with park, attractions over busy highway
The Kansas City Star October 8, 2023
Put a lid on it.

Will Salt Lake Heal its Historic East-West Divide, or Exacerbate it?
Building Salt Lake October 10, 2023
Earlier this year, the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation introduced the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) pilot program with the intent to provide funding for cities to address the needs of communities that are cut off from opportunity and unfairly burdened by past inequitable infrastructure decisions. 

TCTACs: A Treat for Disadvantaged Communities – The American Prospect
The American Prospect October 10, 2023
The bipartisan infrastructure law gives a unique opportunity to communities across the country.

A Flawed Environmental Analysis Underpins I-35 Expansion in Austin, Texas
Center for American Progress October 10, 2023
Since 2000, Austin’s population has increased by 42 percent. 

Southside mayors oppose I-794 tear down, but open to ‘shrinking footprint’ – Milwaukee …
The Business Journals October 11, 2023
A potential removal of Interstate 794 in downtown Milwaukee will remain under consideration at least into next year, along with alternatives that would remove some off-ramps to shrink its footprint, or rebuild the highway as-is.

Gold Line Lessons for “Rethinking Interstate 94” – October 11, 2023
Transit isn’t always an improvement. Sometimes it’s just as bad or worse than highways.

How to Reconnect Neighborhoods (and How Not to) – Streetsblog USA
Streetsblog USA October 11, 2023
Earlier this year, the Biden Administration announced the cities that will receive funds from the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) Program, a new series of federal grants that aim to repair at least some of the countless neighborhoods that were destroyed and divided by highways and automobile infrastructure during the 20th-century era of suburbanization. 

Mayor Lucas, council members announces major steps towards ‘Reconnecting Kansas City’
KCTV October 11, 2023
A major step towards reconnecting Kansas City was addressed Wednesday morning by Mayor Quinton Lucas and city council members.

‘Highway by another name’: I-375 redesign plan disappoints many Detroiters – Outlier Media
Outlier Media October 11, 2023
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is getting closer to replacing I-375 in Detroit with a surface-level boul

Kansas City moves to help neighborhoods severed by U.S. 71 – KMBC
KMBC October 12, 2023
Kansas City, Missouri, leaders are working on a new project to reconnect communities separated by its roadways.

KCMO looks to ‘make up for some mistakes of the past’ with Reconnecting Kansas City project
KSHB October 12, 2023
Imagine a Kansas City united by infrastructure rather than divided — Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said Wednesday such long-deferred dreams will soon be put into action.

Detroit’s Black Bottom Archives is collecting oral histories of Paradise Valley descendants
Detroit Metro Times October 12, 2023
We often talk about Black Bottom and Paradise Valley — Detroit’s bustling Black neighborhoods of the 1920s — as a thing of the past.

Could Austinites weigh in on an I-35 ‘cap and stitch’ bond election? | KXAN Austin
KXAN October 12, 2023
As the Texas Department of Transportation moves ahead on its Interstate 35 Capital Express Central project, Austin city leaders are working to identify hundreds of millions of dollars to support highway “caps,” or deck plazas placed on top of sunken portions of the highway.

Rochester’s $100M Highway Removal Project Aims to Reunite Neighborhoods
Engineering News-Record October 12, 2023
Rochester, N.Y., has selected Stantec for a $4.5-million contract to lead preliminary design of its Inner Loop North Transformation Project, which it estimates will cost about $100 million. 

Another Voice: Stop the tunnel, remove the highway and restore Humboldt Parkway – Buffalo News
Buffalo News October 12, 2023
Knowing that Restoring Our Community Coalition has changed its long-standing position from advocating for removal of the NYS Route 33 (Kensington Expressway) and parkway restoration to supporting the proposed tunnel, I was surprised to witness a very different consensus at a recent hearing.

Fork in the Road: Marina Central Park project stirs emotions | News |
The Argonaut October 12, 2023
The idea of converting the 90 freeway into Marina Central Park has remained on Los Angeles citizens’ minds since the project was endorsed by city officials just a few weeks after it was publicly unveiled this summer.

When Freeway Removal Goes Wrong – Jalopnik
Jalopnik October 13, 2023
The removal of the shortest freeway in the U.S., the I-375 interstate in Detroit, was lauded as a step in the right direction in terms of both honoring historical racial justice and digging out a useless, polluting, alienating piece of infrastructure.

A Caltrans executive protested a freeway expansion. Then she was demoted
Los Angeles Times October 13, 2023
For years, a California Department of Transportation executive, Jeanie Ward-Waller, said she asked tough questions about multimillion-dollar road projects at meetings where she was often the only woman..

More than 50 businesses in Austin expected to be displaced by I-35 expansion project
KVUE October 13, 2023
 Plans to expand I-35 through Austin are expected to displace dozens of businesses.

Critics of Express Lane expansion stress investments in public transit – Fairfax Times
Fairfax Times October 13, 2023
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is proposing an expansion of express toll lanes on Interstate-495, something opponents say distracts from proactive solutions to heavy traffic.

Rethink35 plans what it hopes will be largest anti-highway protest in Texas history – Austin Monitor
Austin Monitor October 13, 2023
Rethink35, the organization fighting the Interstate 35 Capital Express Project slated to begin next year, is organizing what it hopes to be the largest anti-highway protest in Texas history.

ReConnect Rondo works to launch national coalition of cities seeking redress for highway …
Pioneer Press October 13, 2023
Cities bisected by interstate highway construction in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s often share what some might liken to the equivalent of historical wounds.