California communities have been split and have yet to heal!
12/8/2023 California State Assembly
Select Committee on Reconnecting Communities
In the 50+ years since California laid down its interconnected systems of roads, the state has yet to address the full impact on how these freeways and highways tore through communities large and small.
Reconnecting California is a project focused on finding ways to reconnect the communities split by our freeways systems.
Eliminating, retrofitting, or mitigating highways and other transportation structures that obstruct community connectivity.
Enhancing access to the daily needs of community members such as jobs, education, healthcare, food, and recreation split by freeways.
Promoting equitable development and restoration.
Date: Thursday, February 15
Time: 1:00 pm
Location: State Capitol, Room 126
Watch it LIVE by clicking here.
Reconnecting communities in California after being impacted by the separation of freeways is a complex challenge, but there are several strategies and approaches that the state can consider to address this issue:
Community Engagement and Input:
Involve affected communities in the decision-making process. Hold public meetings, forums, and workshops to gather input and feedback from residents.
Develop comprehensive community-based plans that take into account the specific needs and aspirations of the affected communities. These plans should consider factors like housing, transportation, public spaces, and economic development.
Explore the possibility of redesigning existing freeway infrastructure to mitigate its negative impact on communities. This might include capping some highways, meaning creating a land bridge, and implementing green spaces over them, and creating pedestrian-friendly areas so people can safely connect from one community to the other.
While it's true that the disconnection of communities from freeway construction largely occurred several decades ago, the modern impacts of freeways are still very much relevant today. The historical construction of freeways often led to the physical and social separation of communities, with far-reaching consequences that persist into the present day. Freeways can continue to act as physical barriers, limiting residents' ability to access essential services, job opportunities, and amenities. Communities separated by freeways often experience economic disparities. Access to good jobs, quality education, and healthcare can be unequal, with those on the "wrong side" of a freeway suffering from limited opportunities and resources. All things that are still relevant today.
We are not planning to rip up roads. It’s important to acknowledge that by working to reconnect communities doesn’t necessarily mean we need to eliminate the freeways that are already in place. The reconnection of communities and improvements in transportation can be and has been achieved through a combination of strategies. For example, creating easier access to communities, like building bridges over the freeways or by capping highways in order to reconnect neighborhoods.
Barrio Logan | I-5 freeway
Pasadena | I-210 freeway
Pacoima | SR-118 freeway
Sacramento | US-50 and SR-99
San Jose | I-280 and I-680
To name a few.
Constructing freeway caps after highways are built is a costly challenge, but we believe it’s an investment that is worth it. It’s important to address this issue and offer community members easier access to jobs, groceries, health care and other services that were wrongly disconnected from.
Historically, California's freeways have uprooted numerous residents, inflicted significant harm on those who remained, and have left communities divided. These freeways and highways have disproportionately impacted low-income communities and communities of color.
These communities were left fragmented as crucial connections to work, education, shopping, and healthcare were severed. Home values declined, and land-use patterns adapted to accommodate the positioning of freeways. The impact was particularly pronounced in California's most urban neighborhoods, where not just one but multiple freeways often cut through these communities. For instance, Boyle Heights in Los Angeles is divided by four major freeways.*