Healing Wounds and Divisions
Beginning with the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, the interstate highway system began to be constructed across the United States, funded largely by the federal gas tax, which covered 90 percent of the cost. While most of the interstate system’s mileage was built to connect states to other states, and urban areas to one another and to their suburbs, highways were also built through densely populated urban areas. These urban highways negatively impacted the property values, connectivity, and aesthetics of the communities through which they were built.
Challenge: How can the problems created by these sorts of intrusive historic transportation infrastructure be remedied?
Transportation professionals now have the opportunity to right the mistakes committed in the 1950s and 60s. Numerous elevated highways and overpasses that divide neighborhoods in cities across the country have already been torn down, and considerations of local communities’ needs and desires are slowly — but unevenly from state to state — being taken into account. Meanwhile, communities across the country have reclaimed spaces under elevated highways, over sunken highways, and adjacent to interchanges. Planners and transportation professionals are increasingly aware of their responsibility to address these urban scars, and of the role of arts and culture can play in reclamation.