Capping urban highways can reconnect neighborhoods.

Cities are finding ways to connect neighborhoods and gain valuable urban space by building new types of bridges over freeways when they are reconstructed.

The Chicago Tribune describes how some cities have created green space, while other “caps” or “lids” are converted to retail areas. All provide improved pedestrian connections between neighborhoods that were previously divided by highways. This can reinvigorate nearby retail areas and add a human scale to urban areas long dominated by freeway noise.

“[Columbus, Ohio's] cap is so successful that it has changed people’s expectations here for highway bridges. The Ohio Department of Transportation’s plans for a new highway project here include at least one highway bridge with a cap-style treatment. Other bridges will have foundations that allow caps to be built in the future.”

From the street, the Columbus lid looks like a normal urban retail area. However, from the highway, only an enclosed bridge is visible.