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Now they're talking about tearing down I-244 in downtown Tulsa

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Devil's Advocate: complete/improve the Gilcrease Expressway to remove thru traffic (including the under-construction portion) and then it becomes less unreasonable to shit-can Tulsa's downtown freeways.  Brand new can of worms to build a freeway thru the Osage Res, but it would provide all the thru connections currently used by those downtown freeways.  One would be left with five stubbed freeways feeding downtown likely still putting most commuters within a few blocks of their destination.

I don't think it would fully solve anyone's problems, though.  You can never undo the damage that was caused. My observation of freeway cancellation and removal in Milwaukee shows that the abandoned r/w either sits fallow for decades if the neighborhood is too economically depressed, or it gets snapped up by market-rate development and prices out those who currently live in the neighborhood.

The last 50 years with the Park Freeway illustrate this nicely.  It took over 30 years to begin to redevelop most of the land cleared for the Park Freeway west of I-43.  Land cleared for the same freeway east of the Milwaukee River got snapped up by developers very quickly and high-end rentals went up immediately, even in Milwaukee's early years of decline in the late 70's and early 80s. 

While I'm in favor of some freeway teardowns (e.g., I think the Park Freeway removal in Milwaukee was good. The Claiborne Freeway should be removed though the neighborhood will change because that's what cities do.), tearing down I-244 in Tulsa won't help the neighborhood much, won't undo the damage done decades ago, and will cause problems elsewhere.

It reminds me of the insane effort to remove I-70 (now I-44) in St Louis just north of downtown. I have a feeling the Tulsa effort is much like the St Louis effort which was the desires of white hipsters and urbanists with no input from the local African-American population. It would have negatively impacted the African-American community in St Louis as it was easily the best way to drive from the largely black North City and North County to downtown and to the job-rich industrial area just south of downtown. This was before the Musial Bridge so the highway's removal would also have disconnected the North Side from the also largely African-American East St Louis and adjacent communities.


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