More cities are banishing highways underground — and building parks on top. The most popular place to put a city park is, increasingly, on a highway.
Cities looking to boost their downtowns, or to improve downtrodden neighborhoods, are creating “highway cap parks” on decks constructed over freeways that cut through the urban center. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Denver and Dallas have deck parks underway. Atlanta, Houston, Minneapolis and Santa Monica, California, are among the cities considering similar projects.
In crowded cities, highway deck parks are a way to create new acreage and provide green space that can spur downtown development. Capping a highway to create a park also can reconnect urban neighborhoods sliced apart by the expressway building boom of the 1960s and ’70s.
“There’s been a sort of a sea change in the way people think about roads and real estate in general,” said Ed McMahon, a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that focuses on land use. “If you design a city around cars, you’re going to get more cars. If you design a city around people, you’re going to get more people and places and better real estate value.”
Dallas broke ground in February on the highway project that will undergird its second deck park, to be built over Interstate 35 in the Oak Cliff neighborhood. In 2012, the city opened the 5-acre, $110 million Klyde Warren Park above a freeway that separates the downtown Dallas Arts District from the Uptown residential and retail neighborhood.[Thanks to the The Overhead Wire for the link – Ed.]