Rails to Trails in New Orleans: Connecting Neighborhoods Using the Lafitte Greenway

 

The following post comes courtesy of Global Site Plans' The Grid. CNU and Global Site Plans recently teamed up to syndicate Grid content, as its contingent of writers presents a view on the opportunities and issues of urbanization all across the world. CNU will carry select posts from the Grid direct on the CNU Salons.

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 Galvez at Lafitte

 

Between the historic French Quarter and Bayou St. John, a former shipping canal and railway sits idle, presenting a tremendous opportunity for redevelopment into recreational space. Plans to convert this right-of-way into an open space greenway are finally close to reality as city officials, urban plannersand neighborhood activists prepare to move forward with the project.

The Lafitte Greenway is a planned 3.1-mile long bicycle and pedestrian trail with open space and recreation areas. Plans for the greenway incorporate partnerships with local groups who may seek to add amenities such as sand volleyball courts, community gardens and gathering places. Such amenities may not be part of the initial design of the greenway, but could be added and maintained by individual organizations in collaboration with the city. In an area where trains used to pass through on a daily basis, New Orleans may soon have a vast stretch of open green space right in the middle of an urban setting.

The Lafitte Greenway will provide more than just green space for the city of New Orleans. As people from many areas of New Orleans use the pedestrian and bicycle trail, it will be a connective thread through multiple, adjacent neighborhoods. The continuous, public open space will act as a corridor that connects neighborhoods as diverse as the eighteenth-century French Quarter, Treme, Mid City and the mid twentieth-century suburbs of Lakeview.

Economic investment and commercial development can be expected to follow the opening of the Lafitte Greenway. Businesses along the corridor will adapt to appeal to cyclists and pedestrians and new development may be attracted to the area as a result of the recreational resource. With the conversion of the unused railroad right-of-way into something of value, New Orleans can leverage the Lafitte Greenway to catalyze neighborhood revitalization.

Lafitte GreenwayMany cities and governments own stretches of linear right-of-way as a result of former railway lines and transportation pathways. Many successful examples ofrails-to-trails conversion into recreational space already exist, including the Tammany Trace trail just north of New Orleans and the widely celebrated High Line in New York City. As cities consider what to do with these linear tracts of land, the Lafitte Greenway in New Orleans may serve as another example of great value created from abandoned rail lines.

How else can cities make use of unused railway lines?

To read the original post, written by Jessica Yoon, visit Global Site Plans.

 

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