Freeways without futures- I 20/59?

Posted: March 31, 2011 in Urban Design

Here is an interesting article about how destructive it has been to run expressways thru our central cities, often destroying and dividing thriving communities in the process of their construction.

Freeways without futures | Kaid Benfield’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC.

Here in Birmingham, Interstate 20/59, creates a major barrier between downtown Birmingham and the civic center district. It has been proposed that it be rebuilt below ground, at enormous cost, as a means to eliminate this visual and physical eyesore. I have another idea:

Since the powers that be insist on building a northern interstate bypass that is not justified by traffic studies, but is desired as an incentive to build more sprawl, how about just tearing down the intercity route and replacing it with a boulevard instead, as proposed for New Orleans in this article?  If tearing down the entire highway is too scary to most, perhaps just tear down, as a minimum, the section between I-65 and the Airport. This boulevard would provide a complete street connection between our  eastern neighborhoods, the airport and downtown.

If we were to tear down the entire highway from the airport thru its’ connection to 459 southwest of Bessemer,  as a bonus, the interchange known as “malfunction junction” would no longer be needed and could be demolished as well!

Traffic on this highway is not any faster than boulevard speed anyway, especially during rush hour, so it would not impede traffic flow into and out of the city. And with the northern bypass in place through traffic would be re-routed and there would only be local traffic anyway.

What do you think? Win-Win for the developers and misguided Mayors who want the northern bypass and a win-win for downtown well?

Something to think about…..

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