Watch for Falling Infrastructure: The Benefits of Freeway Rollback Covered in the NY Times (Quotes CNU)

Yesterday's New York Times had a smart piece by Sam Dolnick on the increasingly serious prospect that the elevated Sheridan Expressway will come down and be replaced by a livable street — a pedestrian- and business-friendly boulevard or other improved surface street. 

The Sheridan would hardly be the first elevated freeway to be "unbuilt" and replaced with improved surface streets that complement their urban neighborhoods. Freeways have come down in San Francisco, Portland, Milwaukee (when CNU's John Norquist was mayor) and even New York, where the smaller West Side Highway was converted to a surface street after it collapsed in 1973). But the Sheridan — in the number 2 position on last year's CNU Freeways Without Futures list of elevated roadways with the best prospects for removal — would be the biggest freeway to come down in the nation's media capital, so it's not surprising that it's attracting attention now that the New York State DOT has announced that its elimination is one of three options under consideration for its future. 

CNU president and CEO John Norquist reinforces this point in the article, referring to the Sheridan as “a big important example because it’s in New York and it’s very visible; it would inspire other people that are trying to do the same thing."

"We're rolling back the freeway system," he says. 

Dolnick recounts how the dream of activists to rid their neighborhood of the blighting 1.25 mile freeway has moved from a long-held spot "on the fringes of the State Transportation Department’s to-do list" to the "center of the state’s rethinking of the highway." Advocates say it will "ease traffic, improve neighborhood life and right a decades-old wrong committed by the master planner Robert Moses of building an unnecessary highway." The Sheridan amounts to a short-cut between two freeways that intersect further to the east.

A highlight from the article is an enlightened quote from a regional official with the state DOT. “We realize that we can’t just look at the highway facility itself; we need to look at the impact of a highway through the community it runs through,” says Phillip Eng. “It needs to focus on not just moving traffic.”

The national interest comes at a fortuitous time, with CNU set to release next week a study of the traffic and economic impacts of replacing the Claiborne Expressway in New Orleans' Tremé neighborhood.

Photo: Freeway with an expiration date? The Sheridan from the New York Times by Robert Stolarik. <br>




Bronx Could Be Beautiful

The Bronx has long been the tough borough; the setting for the scariest parts of Tom Wolfe's "Bonfires of the Vanities". The climactic violent scene is on a ramp of the Cross Bronx Expressway. The message is don't get off the freeway in Bronx. Yet those who live there know another side to the Bronx. Sure visitors know Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Zoo and the Botanical Garden, but there's also Arthur St.(the real Little Italy), City Island( the fishing village with a Salsa beat) and neighborhoods like Norwood where comedian Robert Klein<> grew up.

Bronx was prosperous in the early 20th century, with NYC's most luxurious new housing being built along the truly Grand Concourse. The GC is a large capacity boulevard that serves not only its traffic function but, being well connected with intersecting cross streets, also as a setting for commerce and social activity like walking. Also built were tree lined thoroughfares such as the Bronx River Parkway. Starting in the late 1930s and extending into the early 1970s Robert Moses led the intense effort to build freeways through the Bronx. The Cross Bronx, the Major Deegan, the Bruckner and the Sheridan Expressways were pushed through the borough degrading the neighborhoods around them and speeding up commuter car traffic heading for Westchester and Connecticut. Bronx lost alot and gained little from these investments and opposition developed to the point where the Sheridan was stopped except for the short section between the Cross Bronx and the Bruckner. So tear it down and roll it back like they did recently in Seoul, South Korea or like the French are about to do in Paris removing the only stretch of freeway in the city that was built under the Auto Route plan of former President Georges Pompidou.

The Bronx is beautiful. Get off the freeway and you'll see what I mean.


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