Highways Destroy Cities

Posted by GOOD

baum-snow2Building a major highway through a city reduces that city's population by 18 percent. That is the finding of a new study by Brown University economist Nathaniel Baum-Snow. It's not secret that giant elevated highways in urban centers creates crime and bad neighborhoods, but Baum-Smith has found that they also affect cities by making it easier to move to the suburbs:

If suburb A builds a highway to connect to suburb B, that's going to effect the distribution of commutes not only between those suburbs but also the commutes in the region as a whole. So there are going to be these externalities where someone in suburb C has a faster way to get to work, so they're going to start using it and filling up this new highway. And a business downtown might say, hey, there's this new infrastructure, let's go locate out there and I can have a lot more space to work with. So anytime one part of a region changes something, it's going to effect population and employment throughout the metropolitan area. So I think it's important to engage at the regional level.
Read the full interview with Baum-Snow at Planetizen here.Photo via Flickr user JBrownell