Highways-to-Boulevards Toolkit

Toolkit Background

What happens when highways need to be replaced?

In the case of urban highways across the country, the answer residents and advocates have been giving is “Get rid of it!” (or “Turn it into a boulevard”).

Tri-State Transportation Campaign has been working on this issue since 1999 as a founding member of the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance, a group of four community-based and two city-wide organizations who have partnered for nearly 20 years to advance a dramatically different future for the Sheridan Expressway in the South Bronx. Over the last few years, momentum has picked up in the Bronx and elsewhere in New York State to transform urban legacy highways. Communities have asked for resources and guidance on how to manage highways that are outdated or eyesores, and how to revitalize economies, increase safety, address blight, create recreational opportunities and attract business, residents and visitors to communities adversely impacted by road infrastructure.

In an effort to capitalize on that demand for resources amidst growing interest in converting highways to boulevards and to fill a gap in guidance provided by local and state departments of transportation, TSTC convened the Urban Freeways to Boulevards Summit in 2014, which brought together agency and advocacy partners from Albany, New York City, Rochester and Syracuse to discuss their ideas and efforts to transform their highways. With many similar goals and experiences discussed, a seven-city, statewide working group was subsequently created as a network of support for municipalities and cities throughout New York State seeking answers to the same questions.

After one year of input, ideas and feedback from these formal working group meetings, TSTC is launching a new Highways-to-Boulevards Toolkit as a resource for advocates, agency staff and local officials to reference when re-imagining highways throughout New York State and across the country. The toolkit includes sections on Debunking the Myths, Case Studies from each of the seven working group cities and a Resource page.

The working group and toolkit were made possible with a generous grant from the New York Community Trust and with support of the Ford Foundation. Both foundations have supported civic groups in their efforts to strengthen their communities through improved transportation planning, such as the “boulevardization” of the Sheridan Expressway in the South Bronx. Additionally, we owe our thanks to Justin Booth, executive director of GObike Buffalo, for his support of this project, and to our dedicated colleagues in the working group.


1. NEPA vs SEQR Factsheet

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is the mechanism for conducting an environmental review for federally funded projects. The New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) is the environmental assessment for any project proposed by a New York State agency or local government. In situations where federal as well as state or local governments are involved in a project and a federal agency is reviewing a project under NEPA, such as with Highway to Boulevard conversions, the state and local agencies must still satisfy SEQR.

2.  NEPA Process

I. NEPA Process

II. Key Areas of Concern:

3.   Level of Service Resources

4.   Every Place Counts Leadership Academy: Learn, Engage, Make a Difference

USDOT Transportation Toolkit

      • Some common transportation scenarios regarding ROADS from the toolkit

5.   New York State Statewide Transportation Improvement Program

The Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (aka STIP) is a list of all projects, or project phases, in New York State proposed for Federal funding within a specific four federal fiscal years.

6.  Debunking the Myths

Debunking the Myths


7.   How to Do a Cost Benefit Analysis

8.   Case Studies

Case Studies: Highway to Boulevard Projects in New York State

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