Past, Present and Future
To understand the emergence of urban transportation planning in the US, try to imagine the situation in large urban areas such as Chicago in the early 1950s, a prosperous period following the Second World War. Their populations had increased substantially through in-migration from rural areas, especially from the south, as well as from abroad. Moreover, within metropolitan areas, out-migration to the suburbs was increasing. In response to increased use of cars, and trucks for deliveries and goods movement, expressway plans proposed for the Chicago area in the 1930s were being implemented. For example, a six-lane, 13-mile expressway connecting north-west Chicago to its northern suburbs opened to traffic in 1951. Four radial expressways centred on Chicago’s central area were planned, but construction funding was not available. A circumferential tollway with radial extensions into the outer suburbs was being planned. In contrast, following the peak ridership achieved in 1946, bus, streetcar and subway-elevated ridership had steadily declined. Similar conditions were found in Detroit, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
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