Global sustainable development consultancy Arup has been awarded the Highways to Boulevards Regional Study by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).

The groundbreaking study will identify opportunities to reconnect communities by removing, retrofitting, or mitigating transportation facilities — such as highways or railways that create barriers to community connectivity including mobility, access, or economic development — and offering a path for communities to reknit to better fit the context of their surroundings and serves all people.

Throughout the 20th century, highways were built through neighborhoods across the country, resulting in the displacement of homes and businesses, disproportionately impacting communities of color. With these historical and enduring issues in mind, SCAG is motivated to develop a Highways to Boulevards Regional Study. With this study, Arup and the team are ensuring this critical infrastructure is reimagined to support transportation equity, green spaces, climate change resilience, and economic development. 

In collaboration with transportation planning firm Nelson\Nygaard and interdisciplinary design practice HereLA, Arup will facilitate the project management; review existing conditions; implement a robust and meaningful engagement strategy to establish a framework and set of metrics for priority projects identification and development; and create a local jurisdiction guidance to mitigate the negative impacts of transportation facilities. Through the study, SCAG will support local jurisdictions by positioning the region to compete for Federal Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Grant funds and developing a best practices guide. 

The study will help to further the SCAG’s regional transportation goals and strategies, including those outlined in the 2024‐2050 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy, referred to as Connect SoCal. The study aligns with the Connect SoCal regional goal of improving mobility, accessibility, reliability, and travel safety. Arup’s work kicked off in November 2023 after the SCAG Regional Council approval in November and is expected to continue until April 2025.

What they say

At Arup, we champion equitable development, as many underserved communities across the country are facing struggles in accessing the institutions they need because of lack of proximity and structural racism. Highways can be physical barriers to health, safety, education, and housing, and this work aims to begin the process of overcoming these barriers.

Kate White

West Highways Business Leader, Arup