Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Gizmodo Calls Attention to Freeway “Cap Parks”

Gizmodo has published a nice intro (here) to the subject of freeway “cap parks” – the decking of freeway sections in CBDs.  The examples given are Boston and Dallas (built) and St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Chicago (planned or proposed).  Of these examples, Boston is by far the most extensive and the most important in terms of its impact on the city.  In fact, the Boston Central Artery wasn’t really decked – the elevated highway was torn down and replaced with a tunnel.  And although the Big Dig project had it problems (the Gizmodo writer calls it “infamous”), the results are truly transformative.
Missing from the story is Seattle, where putting the Alaskan Way viaduct into tunnel could mimic Boston’s success.
Certainly the other examples mentioned have or will benefit from putting some sort of covering.
How about some more opportunities for the future:
·      Philadelphia – I-95 still separates center city from the waterfront, despite some small “caps.” 
·      Atlanta – The worst.  The Downtown Connector runs like a river of magma through the heart of the city.
·      Hartford – I-84 is already the subject of local efforts to tame it.

These projects can be very expensive, but I don’t consider them frills.  I think that a successful 21st century city has to tame its highways – especially in the city centers – and decking can be a tool to do that.

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