March 15, 2023
Source: Reason to be Cheerful
The Inflation Reduction Act could usher in a new era of freeway removal in cities like Milwaukee, which transformed its urban core by tearing down a highway 20 years ago.
In 1995, Peter Park, then a professor at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, began working with his students to make a case for tearing down a freeway. Their idea was tantalizing: replace a section of I-794, an elevated highway that ran through downtown Milwaukee, with a pedestrian-friendly boulevard. In doing so, the reclaimed space that would connect the city’s trendy Third Ward, laced with boutiques, patio dining and art studios, with its downtown, adding dozens of developable acres of land right smack in the city center.
“Save your money,” Park recalls telling a Milwaukee Journal business reporter at the time as they discussed impending repairs on the controversial section of the highway. “Imagine it’s not there right now.”