I think that they were not a good idea. At a turning point in the history of the US, a big decision was made to invest in freeways and highways instead of the existing train networks. This took off with the popularity of personal cars and trains have yet to catch up. If I was given that choice, I would have chosen to invest in the trains and railways. But then again, hindsight is 20 20.
Freeways have greatly helped the transportation of modern civilization and one of the major downsides is that they require a lot of cement and can get crowded with cars. However, if freeways didn’t exist, then might have been more planes that would be used for transportation which would be worse for the environment.
I’m not so sure it was a matter of being a good or bad idea so much as a necessity for emerging America. When the Great Depression ended, the car boom began, encouraging people to buy personal cars for travel rather than take trains or planes. Cars were advertised at the time as being more flexible and affordable than other modes of transportation. There is still controversy surrounding the removal of the Red Car trolley system in Los Angeles in the 40’s on the part of the car and gas companies. Since cars became the most popular mode of transportation, infrastructure had to be introduced as a necessity.
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