Highway expansion effects on Urban racial redistribution in the post-civil rights period

Guangqing Chi, Domenico Parisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


A limited number of historical case studies document that highway construction produced significant consequences on racial relationships and redistribution in the early and mid-20th century. However, little is known about how the expansion of an existing highway system influences urban racial redistribution after the legal bases for social and environmental justice in highway construction were established. This research uses census data for 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000 to examine the role that highway expansion plays in affecting the redistribution of Blacks and Hispanics at the census tract level within the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis metropolitan area of Wisconsin. The results indicate that the concentration of Blacks and Hispanics in neighborhoods in close proximity to highways that were expanded between 1965 and 1970 increased substantially between 1970 and 2000. Highway expansion promotes Black growth in nearby neighborhoods through its role as an amenity by providing easy access to the transportation network. Highway expansion also promotes Hispanic growth but through its role as a disamenity by decreasing housing prices in immediate neighborhoods. The results have important policy implications for addressing the issue of racial relationships in urban America.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-58
Number of pages19
JournalPublic Works Management and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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