The Public Interest

Costs, benefits, and the West Side Highway

Regina Herzlinger

Spring 1979

THE plan to reconstruct New York City’s West Side Highway is breathtaking in its scope, bravura, and expense. It calls for the construction of a four-mile-long highway, at a cost of $300 million per mile, and the creation of hundreds of acres of land by filling in parts of the Hudson River. In an era of fiscal restraint, the plan is extravagant. In a time suspicious of technology, it would build a highway-the archetypical symbol of technological evil-and in a city considered a political carnivore that regularly devours such projects. Yet of all the alternatives this one was selected, and seems likely to be implemented.

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