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Rebuild Highways - Or Think Differently

Our new president and his staff are planning to rebuild and repair some of our nation's infrastructure ("our crumbling roads and bridges"). Should we just replace what we have, or rethink what we are doing?

A similar project, the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways signed into law in 1956, created 46,000 miles of freeways. What is less well-known is the fact that there are about 40 acres of total right-of-way associated with each mile of freeway. What should we do with all this space?

We could run trains or other mass transit in the median or on the edges. We could use the space for a new "smart grid" distributing power more efficiently. It could also be used to place the revamped "information superhighway."


(Typical American highway median)

It turns out that Larry Niven has already been thinking about this problem. In his excellent 1972 story Cloak of Anarchy.

King's Free Park had been part of the San Diego Freeway, the section between Sunset and the Santa Monica interchange. Decades ago the concrete had been covered with topsoil. The borders had been landscaped from the start.
(Read more about King's Free Park)

More ideas abound at Rethinking the Interstate.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/25/2009)

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