Cars drive along Interstate 83 in Baltimore. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)
Cars drive along Interstate 83 in Baltimore. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Death of the urban highway

Interstate 83 is doomed.

OK, that may be hyperbole.  But there’s a growing sentiment that urban highways are an impediment to revitalization of the nation’s cities.

On Monday, The Atlantic Cities posted a piece on how cities throughout the world are eliminating car-oriented transit to better connect people with urban cores.  The article reports that cities in the United States are in the middle of a cultural shift away from the car culture that has driven much of the post World War II development in this nation.

All this means there is no fixed limit on the number of highways we can tear down or substantially modify. It depends more on political will and specific bureaucratic factors. Almost every major city has an apple-corer highway, sometimes several, that can be torn down, decked over or boulevardized.

That sentiment can also  be found here in Baltimore.

During an interview with The Daily Record last week, Al Barry, owner of land use consultation firm AB Associates and a former assistant planning director for the city, argued Baltimore needs to consider pulling down at least portions of the Jones Falls Expressway.

Barry and his clients created a plan about a decade ago that called for pulling down the lower portion of the highway and turning it into a boulevard.

“At some point, the city is going to have to face that fact and begin some strategic planning as to when the expressway should come down, because at some point it has to come down because they can’t afford to rebuild it,” Barry said.