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From elevated freeways to surface boulevards: neighborhood and housing price impacts in San Francisco


  • Cervero, Robert
  • Kang, Junhee
  • Shively, Kevin


Freeway “deconstruction†marks an abrupt shift in urban policy. Priorities are shifting away from designing cities to enhance mobility toward promoting livability. This paper investigates the neighborhood, traffic, and housing price impacts of replacing elevated freeways with surface boulevards in two corridors of San Francisco in California, USA: Embarcadero along the city’s eastern waterfront and Central Freeway/Octavia Boulevard serving a predominantly residential neighborhood west of downtown. Using informant interviews, literature reviews, and statistical analyses, the research suggests that freeway conversions generally gentrifies neighborhoods, although policies like affordable housing mandates can temper displacement effects. Empirical evidence on residential sales transactions reveals that the disamenity effects of proximity to a freeway have for the most part given way to amenity benefits once roadways are converted to landscaped multiway boulevards. It is concluded that freeway-to-boulevard conversions have yielded net positive benefits without seriously sacrificing transportation performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Cervero, Robert & Kang, Junhee & Shively, Kevin, 2009. "From elevated freeways to surface boulevards: neighborhood and housing price impacts in San Francisco," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt33q2012g, University of California Transportation Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:uctcwp:qt33q2012g

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carolyn Dehring & Neil Dunse, 2006. "Housing Density and the Effect of Proximity to Public Open Space in Aberdeen, Scotland," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 34(4), pages 553-566, December.
    2. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
    3. Hestermann, Dean W. & Dimento, Joseph F. & Hengel, Dru Van & Nordenstam, Brenda, 1993. "Impacts of a consent decree on "the last urban freeway": Interstate 105 in Los Angeles county," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 299-313, July.
    4. repec:cup:jagaec:v:33:y:2001:i:03:p:487-492_02 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Espey, Molly & Owusu-Edusei, Kwame, 2001. "Neighborhood Parks and Residential Property Values in Greenville, South Carolina," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(03), pages 487-492, December.
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