Effect of Southwest Expressway cancellation?

From Flickr, regarding this image:

sds70has posted a comment:

Looking back now, do you think folks wish I-95 was run thru downtown Boston vs. around it? Yesssss, I understand folks houses were saved but in the long term, do you think not fully completing the Interstate plan around Boston is what caused the traffic mess that is in place today ?

This is just my opinion, but no. Building more highways doesn’t seem to fix traffic problems. There’s two sets of traffic problems that this cancellation could conceivably have made worse. One is Rt 128; the other is the Southeast Expressway.

I’ll take the second one first, because it’s easier – adding another route for vehicles to get into the city would have made central Boston’s traffic problems much much worse. It’s not like the highway would have added capacity to the rest of the roads. It certainly could have delayed the traffic on the Expressway, but really it would have just moved it further into the city.

As for 128, I believe that even with 95 signed through the city, folks just passing through would go around Boston as they do with New York. The traffic on 128 suggests a need for better options connecting the suburban towns rather than improved options into the city.

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1 comment for “Effect of Southwest Expressway cancellation?

  1. neil
    March 1, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Further response from sds70:

    But isnt it better to have more than 1 route into a city ? Think about a subdivision, I would prefer to have 2 or more ways to get into my development vs. just 1.

    I think about DC and how all of those Interstates inside the city were cancelled during the Freeway Revolts of the late 60s/early 70s. Again, houses were saved but now you don’t provide any other way to get thru DC. Your only option is to go around the city vs. Beltway vs. thru the city if the original Interstate plan was followed (see ROADS TO THE FUTURE website which has tons of information on this). I think at the least now, DC should extend I-395 up to where I-95 would’ve come out at outside of College Park on the Beltway (use maps.google.com to bring this area up).

    I’m not as familiar with DC, but Boston doesn’t just have 1 route – there are 3 Interstate routes in (93 from the north, 93 from the south and 90 from the west), plus Routes 1, 2 and 9 carry in a fair amount traffic. Not to mention all of the other smaller ways in and out. The comparison to a subdivision doesn’t really hold up since there, you’re talking about literally one or two access points. I’m sure that are over 1000 different ways to get from outside Boston city limits to inside.

    Traffic in Boston isn’t limited to just the interstates; if you make it easier for more people to get in, you’re moving the traffic from the interstates to the surface streets – which already can be pretty clogged. Making it easier for people to bring their cars into the city will not (in my opinion) ease traffic; it will make it worse. If more routes into the city were a magic bullet, then places like New York (8-10 Interstate access routes plus a huge number of parkways), LA and San Francisco would have no problems at all.

    I’m a road geek. I’d love to say that more roads are better but I just don’t see it.

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