IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Freeway Revolts!


  • Jeffrey Brinkman
  • Jeffrey Lin


Freeway revolts were widespread protests across the U.S. following early urban Interstate construction in the mid-1950s. We present theory and evidence from panel data on neighborhoods and travel behavior to show that diminished quality of life from freeway disamenities inspired the revolts, a?ected the allocation of freeways within cities, and changed city structure. First, actual freeway construction diverged from initial plans in the wake of the growing freeway revolts and subsequent policy responses, especially in central neighborhoods. Second, freeways caused slower growth in population, income, and land values in central areas, but faster growth in outlying areas. These patterns suggest that in central areas, freeway disamenity e?ects exceeded small access bene?ts. Third, in a quantitative general equilibrium spatial model, the aggregate bene?ts from burying or capping freeways are large and concentrated downtown. This result suggests that targeted mitigation policies could improve welfare and helps explain why opposition to freeways is often observed in central neighborhoods. Disamenities from freeways, versus their commuting bene?ts, likely played a signi?cant role in the decentralization of U.S. cities.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey Brinkman & Jeffrey Lin, 2019. "Freeway Revolts!," Working Papers 19-29, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:19-29
    DOI: 10.21799/frbp.wp.2019.29

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Gaigne, Carl & Koster, Hans R.A. & Moizeau, Fabien & Thisse, Jacques-Fran├žois, 2020. "Income Sorting Across Space: The Role of Amenities and Commuting Costs," Working Papers 302579, Institut National de la recherche Agronomique (INRA), Departement Sciences Sociales, Agriculture et Alimentation, Espace et Environnement (SAE2).
    2. Glaeser, Edward L. & Ponzetto, Giacomo A.M., 2018. "The political economy of transportation investment," Economics of Transportation, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 4-26.
    3. Stephen J. Redding, 2020. "Comment on "Transportation Infrastructure in the US"," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Analysis and Infrastructure Investment, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Christopher Severen, 2020. "A Ticket to Ride: Estimating the Benefits of Rail Transit," Economic Insights, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, vol. 5(2), pages 1-9, June.
    5. Schauder, Stephanie A., 2020. "The Effect of Sprawl Development on Grocery Store Location and Food Access," 2020 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, Kansas City, Missouri 304173, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Krimmel, Jacob, 2018. "Persistence of Prejudice: Estimating the Long Term Effects of Redlining," SocArXiv jdmq9, Center for Open Science.

    More about this item


    central cities; amenities; commuting costs; suburbanization; highways;

    JEL classification:

    • N72 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N92 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise
    • R42 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Government and Private Investment Analysis; Road Maintenance; Transportation Planning

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:19-29. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.