Undoing the Damage of Urban Freeways

Undoing the Damage of Urban Freeways

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Transportation investments shape our communities — not always for the better. For decades, transportation planners invested in urban freeways that destroyed many communities of color. Recently, the Department of Transportation halted a planned expansion of I-45 in Houston, a project that would have displaced not only families, homes, and businesses but historic Black and brown communities.

Changing the way we invest in transportation is part of how we'll make the U.S. more equitable. The new American Jobs Plan presents a once-in-a-century opportunity to do that — if we do it right.

Third Way and Transportation for America hosted Former US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and a powerhouse lineup of community and government leaders who shared their diverse experiences and perspectives on urban freeways and their impact on communities. Here’s a sample of what Congresswoman Nikema Williams had to say:

“Atlanta is a prime example of displacement with the building of Interstates 75, 85 and I-20 straight through the middle of Atlanta which was a predominantly black neighborhood and community in the 1950s. Once those highways were built, homes, schools, churches, community spaces were all demolished. And in exchange, these communities received congestion, pollution, and low air quality. I came to Congress to make sure I always center those most marginalized—and that’s exactly what I intend to do by reversing the damage of these highways on our communities.”

Submit your questions below to join the conversation!


Former US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Lyft's Chief Policy Officer & Advisor to the Co-Founders

Josh Freed, Senior Vice President for the Climate and Energy Program, Third Way

Representative Nikema Williams (D-GA)

Mayor Ben Walsh, Syracuse, New York

Former Mayor John Norquist, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Beth Osborne, Director, Transportation for America

Moderated by: Tanya Snyder, Reporter, Politico


Molly Cook, RN, Stop TxDOT I-45, Houston

Keith Baker, Executive Director of Reconnect Rondo, St. Paul

Amy Stelly, Claiborne Avenue Alliance, New Orleans

Moderated by: Alex Laska, Transportation Policy Advisor, Third Way

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