How Fiscal Politics Shaped Urban Freeways and Transformed American Cities
Research Team: Brian Taylor (lead) and Mark Garrett
UC Campus(es): UCLA
Problem Statement: There is a growing interest in addressing the many harms caused by the mass freeway building in American cities more than a half-century ago. Less studied than the effects of urban freeways is how the drive for federal dollars motivated this freeway building boom in the first place, and what we might learn about the politics of transportation finance to better craft transportation policies today.
Project Description: This research will transform many years of research on the politics of freeway finance conducted with two former UCLA students (Jeffrey Brown at Florida State and Eric Morris at Clemson) into a refereed book Drive for Dollars published by Oxford University Press. The premise of this book is that American cities are distinct from almost all others in the degree to which freeways and freeway travel dominate urban landscapes. It will tell the largely misunderstood story of how freeways became the centerpiece of U.S. urban transportation systems, and the crucial, though usually overlooked, role of fiscal politics in bringing freeways about. The researchers will chronicle how the ways that we both raise and spend transportation revenue have shaped our transportation system and the lives of those who use it, from the pre-automobile era to the present day. The main focus, however, will be on how the development of one revolutionary type of road—the freeway—was inextricably intertwined with the intricacies of transportation finance. With the nation’s transportation finance system at a crossroads today, this book will shed light on how we can best plan and fund transportation in the future. The book will draw on these lessons to offer ways forward to pay for transportation more equitably, provide travelers with better mobility, and increase environmental sustainability and urban livability.
Status: In Progress