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>
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