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Interstates to Boulevards: A Legacy of Transportation and Health Transformation

Tuesday, August 25
10:00–10:45 AM PT | 1:00–1:45 PM ET

About the Session

As a result of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, the U.S. Congress authorized President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System. This national highway system was built for economic growth, mobility and national defense purposes. As part of this Interstate network, freeway spurs were constructed and rammed into the heart of major city downtowns across the country. In most cases, these high-speed highways were built within lower income and minority communities, obliterating historic and thriving neighborhoods, such as Black Bottom and Paradise Valley in Detroit and the redlined neighborhoods in West Oakland. Interestingly, State DOT managers and city leaders viewed these infrastructure projects positively as slum clearance opportunities. Moreover, with no mandated national policy to engage the general public and specific residents the roads were affecting, concrete canyons were created, separating families from their livelihoods, sense of place and cultural heritage. This was true in cities as diverse as West Oakland, CA, Chicago, IL, Detroit MI, and Baltimore, MD. Now in the 21st century, USDOT and respective State DOT leaders have realized they must right past wrongs. Interstate to boulevard infrastructure projects, managed within the context of open, respectful and collaborative stakeholder relationships, are now revitalizing downtown environments into holistically healthy communities. These projects greatly advance efforts for walkable neighborhoods and multi-modal streets that foster health and social equity for all human populations. This presentation highlights the challenges and successes of four major cities in redeveloping highway spurs into boulevard streets that reconnect neighborhoods, invigorate community quality of life, and inspire health initiatives that before could never be realized.


  • Infrastructure Upgrades & the Environment 
  • Transportation

About the Speaker

 Ron Deverman Professional Headshot

Ron Deverman
Associate Vice President

Ron Deverman, CEP, is Associate Vice-President and Principal Environmental Planning Manager for HNTB, a national engineering, architecture, and planning firm, managing environmental impact assessment projects for transportation infrastructure improvements such as transit, passenger and freight rail, roadways, and bridges. Ron has over 34-years-experience in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) with special expertise in community impact assessment, cumulative effects analysis, and other federal environmental regulations, such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and Threatened and Endangered Species Act.  Ron is the former Program Manager for IDOT’s Office of Intermodal Project Implementation for the CREATE Program, a program of 70 rail improvement projects in the Chicago area; Ron managed all activities for Phase I environmental, Phase II design and Phase III construction (see www.createprogram.org) and now focuses on Quality Management/Technical Delivery for CREATE.  Ron was awarded the HNTB Fellow Award for his exemplary commitment and dedication to HNTB and the environmental planning professions. His education includes a BS in civil/environmental engineering from the University of Illinois in Urbana, an MA in English (literature and creative writing) from the University of Illinois in Springfield, and post-graduate studies in NEPA and related environmental studies. 

Ron is a Past President of the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP). He has also chaired their national NEPA Symposium, NEPA Working Group, Transportation Working Group (co-founder), and NAEP’s 2016 Annual Conference, among other positions of leadership. He is a Past President of IAEP, the Illinois chapter of NAEP, founded in 1975 as one of the original three chapters of NAEP.  Ron was awarded the NAEP Fellow Award for his exemplary service and commitment to NAEP and the environmental professions. He is also a founding Board member of the International Professional Association of Transport and Health (I-PATH). Ron has authored articles for Environmental Practice, published by Taylor & Francis Press, and Environmental Law Reporter.

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