How Dayton-area highways contributed to segregation, and what comes next: 3 things to know

Credit: Ty Greenlees

Credit: Ty Greenlees

President Biden’s proposed infrastructure package is the largest in decades and the first that seeks to repair damage many experts say was done by earlier highway projects that contributed to segregation in communities nationwide, including the Dayton region.

The Dayton Daily News Path Forward project investigates the most pressing issues facing our community, including race and equity. This story digs into how local highways contributed to segregation and what could be done to mitigate those effects now.

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Here are three things to know about the highways’ impact on segregation and their possible future:

West Fifth Street in Dayton today is mostly residential, but it was once home to a thriving Black business district nicknamed the Nickel. In 1940, West Fifth Street between Bank Street and Broadway Street was home to more than 70 businesses. Many say that was harmed by the construction of I-75.

Construction of I-675 was completed in the late 1980s after a long and controversial history. The highways were not the only factor contributing to white flight, but they played a role, according to local experts.

The Ohio Department of Transportation and the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission have taken steps to include equity into their evaluation of future infrastructure spending. Some experts say Dayton-area municipalities should do more to work together to support all communities.

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