Summer Meeting Prep Talk: Legacy of the Interstate

It’s almost time to meet in Lakewood for the ADC50 summer meeting. To get you ready and thinking about all the interesting sessions, here’s a little background on one:

At the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) Annual Meeting in January, the ADC50 Committee presented a panel on the legacy of the Interstate Highway System. Erica Schneider, from the Ohio DOT, presented on the Columbus, Ohio’s Long Street Cap and Cultural Wall, a project that recognizes and celebrates the history of a neighborhood divided by IH-71 decades ago. David Clarke, from the Federal Highway Administration, presented on Ybor City in Tampa, Florida, and how the DOT moved historic properties to restore the heart of a community divided by construction of IH-4 in the 1950s.

Ybor City

In Ybor City, the Florida DOT helped relocate historic buildings to create a more cohesive historic district reflecting the community’s history.

Linda Henderson, representing the Texas Historical Commission, talked about questions surrounding a new IH-10 project in El Paso that originally proposed to remove locally important—but non-historic—murals reflecting the heritage of a neighborhood. She also gave a brief overview of the segregation practices and policies that went hand-in-hand with highway placement in the first decades of Interstate development.

El Paso

El Paso’s Lincoln Park features a few dozen murals painted on the piers of Interstate-10 where it intersects another highway. TxDOT needs to reconfigure the roadway. While the murals are not yet historic, they are important to the local community. Photo courtesy http://www.lincolnparkcc.org.

 

At ADC50’s upcoming July committee meeting in Lakewood, Colorado, we will revisit the topic. Clarke and Henderson invited others to bring other projects to the conversation. In addition to a brief recap of what we discussed in January, we will hear from Robert Hadlow about Oregon DOT and Portland’s Albina neighborhood, Kristen Zschomler and Minnesota DOT’s project in St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood, and Jessica Feldman, who will show a different side of the highway planning history with an example from Long Beach, California.

While the Interstate Highway System remains a crucial network throughout the country for the movement of people and goods, every state has examples where components of it dramatically divided or otherwise affected neighborhoods and communities. What communities in your states have similar stories? Are there groups working to reconnect what was once divided? How do Section 106 evaluations overlap with other areas of transportation planning to inform possible solutions?

We hope you’ll bring your ideas and examples to Lakewood. Happy travels!

(Linda Henderson, TxDOT)

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