About Joseph F. C. DiMento (Edit profile)

Joseph F. C. DiMento is Professor of Law and Professor of Transportation Science and Planning at the University of California, Irvine (jdimento@law.uci.edu).

Changing Lanes

Joseph F. DiMento and Cliff Ellis

Few planning decisions have affected American cities as much as those involving urban freeways. Massive freeway infrastructure projects have reconfigured urban form, supplanted neighborhoods, displaced tens of thousands of people, and cost billions of dollars. Congress and state legislatures passed important new laws that guided where freeways could be built, what funds were available, which types of consultation and analysis should be conducted, and what impacts were permissible. Lawmakers and courts required that projects be planned and completed with maximum sensitivity to the environment, with concern for relocating displaced residents, and with active citizen participation.

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The Private Sector’s Role In Highway Finance: Lessons From SR 91

Marlon G. Boarnet and Joseph F. DiMento

The gap between needed highway-construction funds and gasoline-tax revenues threatens to widen further. Hybrid vehicles are a reality; alternative fuels are on the horizon; and the gasoline tax—long the workhorse of highway finance in the United States—will inevitably decline in importance. So the search is on for new funds. Can the private sector help fill the gap? Only a few privately financed highways have been built in the US in the past half century. Among them, California’s State Route 91 (SR 91) in Orange County stands out as one of the mature examples. It began as something of a public policy long shot. In 1989, when state legislators debated a bill to allow a limited number of private highway franchises, even the bill’s supporters doubted it had a real chance of passage.

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The Century Freeway: Design by Court Decree

Joseph F. DiMento, Drusilla Van Hengel, and Sherry Ryan

When the Century Freeway opened in October 1993 after three decades in the making – the product of intensive civic conflict, and advertised as the world’s most costly road at over $100 million per mile – it was indeed an achievement of the century. Ultimately it was far more than a mere road. It also became a community development enterprise, an environmental improvement program, a housing project, and a legal precedent that may well shape all future freeway construction. To assess its significance we’ve been examining the record and interviewing the participants, and we will now summarize our findings.

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