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Highway Redevelopment, Aesthetics, and Poverty

Authors: Amanda Rees*, University of Colorado Denver, Peter Anthamatten, University of Colorado Denver
Topics: Transportation Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Urban Geography
Keywords: Highway infrastructure, inequity, transportation geography, urban geography, economic geography, statistical analysis
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Highway infrastructure is lucrative to economic development in the United States. It allows the transport of goods, services, and people between places. It promotes the widespread availability of a diverse array of commodities, supports tourism, and has undergirded the creation of entirely new industries. It generates jobs and connects very different parts of the country to one another. While highways are crucial to the financial success of the country, they illustrate spatial patterns of poverty and inequity. Especially in urban areas, their aesthetics and locations are highly correlated with economic and demographic characteristics of the surrounding neighborhoods. As the initial system of highways in the United States ages, redevelopment and maintenance have become a crucial component of both public safety as well as commercial profitability. Construction projects in wealthier areas lead to different aesthetic outcomes than those in poverty-stricken areas. The city of Denver, Colorado has seen many major development projects on their highways in the past 20 years. This study uses photography, maps, and statistical analysis to compare three of these projects, each with their own unique combination of zoning, economic characteristics, and demographics, in order to illuminate the relationship between highway infrastructure aesthetics and the surrounding neighborhoods.

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