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Old 05-07-2013, 05:49 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeepRightPassLeft View Post
So nobody within the city limits of any city utilizes freeways at any point for any trips, commuting or otherwise? Oh, I didn't know that. I guess I must have been imagining myself driving from my house in NYC to my job in NYC on that imaginary highway down the block from my house...phew...
I thought you said you worked in New Jersey (Jersey City?)

Quote:
Yeah, that I can totally understand for certain areas. But not removal....just driving on the mess that is the West Side Highway south of 59th street has shown me all I need to know about what kind of a mess that makes for.
Sure it's inconvenient for drivers. But it does make the waterfront more pleasant for everyone else who's not driving, I'm glad it's gone. Fastest possible travel times isn't everything.
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:53 AM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
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I do not think traffic was much better when the old west side highway was in place. It was obsolete, dangerous, had a lower capacity than the current highway.
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Old 05-07-2013, 04:17 PM
 
Location: Monmouth County, NJ & Staten Island, NY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HandsUpThumbsDown View Post
But at the same time does the suburbanite give a lick about the noise and air pollution caused by said highway? Or (more importantly to me) the degradation of communities that were demolished to accommodate his smooth commute? Low property values surrounding this highway? Parking dead zones in the CBD that generate little activity and revenue?

The answer to these is no. There is one benefit, a slightly shorter commute, and many negatives. In this city we hold our CBD back and allow certain communities to fester in the name of convenience ... All for people who do not pay 1 cent for the roadway.
Ehh, I wouldn't be so quick to just assume "all suburbanites don't give a lick about the city"...and to be honest, I would even bet that a lot of residents of these cities themselves also use these highways to get to work, whether it be downtown or in another part of the city, as I had originally stated. If the highway nearest to my house was removed because it's also used a lot by thru traffic, it would also inconvenience me and the people of my neighborhood...for a variety of trips. And trips that simply cannot be easily replaced by just "adding and taking transit", which is a very simplistic view and just assumes that everything inside the bounds of every city is at least of a northeastern Brooklyn-type density...even then, cars still serve a huge purpose. Just looking at a map of Baltimore, I'm sure that there are a lot of residents in the northern part of the city who would be inconvenienced greatly by the removal of I-83 within the city limits for some arbitrary reason and just being told "take transit instead or sit in traffic on a road with a lot of lights". That being said, I still understand the idea of highways being a bother in certain dense areas, such as that stretch of I-83 from approximately Druid Hill Park/28th-29th Streets until downtown, but I think it would be a lot better for everyone if the highway was simply covered to where redevelopment/greenspace could be had both atop and along the sides of it, rather than just destroying it and replacing it with some crappy "mixed use boulevard". Then you end up with less efficient traffic, more pollution...and when it's not backed up, a bunch of angry drivers (suburbanites AND city residents) who have to deal with miles of traffic lights, bikes, pedestrians, buses, etc and battle through the neighborhood...kind of like the complete garbage that they made the West Side Highway into, or some of the other overburdened failed urban arterials in NYC, particularly Queens Blvd, Hylan Blvd, Grand Concourse and Flatbush Avenue.

It's not just a matter of "inconveniencing the drivers", but a reality that now you're going to shoehorn a lot of angry drivers through a neighborhood you're trying to make into a safe, fun, vibrant urban space...put the road underground and save the above ground for your mixed-use local community. Yeah, it's expensive but I think that's the best way to handle it for everyone going forward. And I also think that people would be willing to pay marginal tolls to pay for better roadways as well, people in NYC (suburbanites included) pay massive tolls on nearly all crossings and several area highways, and even with great mass transit you still have huge amounts of vehicles being used every day for commutes that mass transit just can't match.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
I thought you said you worked in New Jersey (Jersey City?)
I did for several months late last year until about a month ago. Prior to that, I worked in Staten Island and prior to that, Brooklyn for a while.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
Sure it's inconvenient for drivers. But it does make the waterfront more pleasant for everyone else who's not driving, I'm glad it's gone. Fastest possible travel times isn't everything.
Sure, it made the waterfront seem more accessible than it had in prior years, but I would not say by that much...honestly this is not how you attract people to the waterfront. In every experience I've had with the WSH, it's either been completely bumper to bumper with gridlock blocking the crosswalks, horns honking and the beautiful aroma of vehicular exhaust for all those people "enjoying" the waterfront on bikes/foot. If it's not backed up, then it consists of herds of cabbies, gypsy caps, trucks, buses, SUVs, sedans, sports cars and motorcycles blasting along trying to make the idiotic un-synchronized/un-progressive sequence of lights at approximately 50-60 mph between lights, in a 35 MPH....basically, the complete idiocy of taking a major through route and making it a "boulevard" with people walking/biking around...you get complete lunacy. I was actually driving on it today and almost saw a guy with a bike get completely wiped out by a taxi, all of the time I see people who mozy on across the street with the DON'T WALK light who nearly get killed by garbage trucks going 55 mph or livery cabs whipping through left turn arrows nearly ending up on the sidewalk filled with people trying to get to Chelsea Piers....like most other road in New York, nobody gives a sh*t and the current "boulevard" WSH just goes to show how you DON'T build a road in NYC.

Now what they SHOULD have done was at 59th street, have the through traffic go underground to connect with the Battery Tunnel and Battery Park Underpass, with exits at say... 42nd/34th/Lincoln Tunnel (one exit), 14th Street/Meatpacking District, Christopher Street/West Houston Street, Canal Street/Holland Tunnel, Murray Street/Barclay Street/World Trade Center and then finally end at the Battery Tunnel/Battery Park Underpass with exits directly to the Battery Park area. Now that your thru traffic is out of the way, you can actually turn the surface into a roadway like this, with *gasp* less lanes! and make it much safer for non-vehicular traffic, as you don't have huge legions of vehicles blasting through or waiting idly in congestion. It's a win-win, but it's expensive...so honestly I think a marginal toll for the express roadway underground would be fine....if that money went to cover expenses for that particular road. And it would be a project worth building, that would benefit both automotive/truck traffic, waterfront development, pedestrians and bicyclists and the city in general.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HandsUpThumbsDown View Post
I do not think traffic was much better when the old west side highway was in place. It was obsolete, dangerous, had a lower capacity than the current highway.
Agreed, the old structure was aging and not an effective way to carry traffic through the area either...not to mention a pretty ugly thing on what has potential to be a pretty awesome waterfront. I still think my above idea would have been much better for both the bulk of the traffic as well as the waterfront redevelopment.
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Old 05-07-2013, 04:25 PM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
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^ i didn't say all.

our ideas aren't dissimilar; I'd like to demolish the elevated portion of I 83, which starts just south of about Preston st. That elevated structure is what I have the biggest problem with. It does a lot of damage.
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:00 PM
 
Location: Monmouth County, NJ & Staten Island, NY
407 posts, read 408,013 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HandsUpThumbsDown View Post
^ i didn't say all.
I was speaking in more of a general term, towards this whole idea that urban highways should just be removed without a better replacement. I understand the points you were making.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HandsUpThumbsDown View Post
our ideas aren't dissimilar; I'd like to demolish the elevated portion of I 83, which starts just south of about Preston st. That elevated structure is what I have the biggest problem with. It does a lot of damage.
Ahh this section...yeah I guess as an avid driver I do have a little bias since I do highly enjoy driving on highways like this (when traffic is light of course lol) where you can see the vista of the skyline and rest of the city as you carve through at relatively high speeds....kind of the whole allure that these kind of highways had back when they were first envisioned and designed. But I can understand the practical side of it and that the cheap thrill I described is trumped by much greater concerns for all stakeholders involved in the roadway: the neighbors, people who work nearby, the local environment, local and thru motorists, etc...I think that when it's time to replace that viaduct, they could tunnel from where it transitions from the open cut (between Chase and Madison Streets) and terminate as currently set up (President Street). The stretch near U of Baltimore from Chase Street to approximately Howard Street/Maryland Avenue could be simply covered up, which would sort of make it like a tunnel section, and maybe add a surface avenue...though it looks like Mt Royal Ave has the local traffic covered...so maybe a park?

Though, if I was to really go all the way, I would have it continue underground and come up at Ostend & Sharp near the stadiums, to take even more surface traffic out of the whole downtown/inner harbor area and just connect the two as one road (re-designate I-395 to I-83 all the way to the junction at I-95). That being said, I don't know if traffic in the area would warrant this connection as I'm not that familiar with it....I just figured it'd be helpful to remove as much of that automotive traffic from surface streets and throw it underground.

Of course I made a diagram in Google Maps because all I ever do is use Google Maps haha

Baltimore Highway - Google Maps
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Old 05-07-2013, 07:32 PM
 
Location: Laurentia
5,593 posts, read 6,383,401 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeepRightPassLeft View Post
...or companies could just leave the city altogether since you're now limiting mobility and inhibiting the workforce from easily accessing their jobs, regardless of where they're from: neighborhoods within the city, suburbs, exurbs or even neighboring cities. Yeah, that sounds just grand....let's limit mobility and just switch everybody to buses and trains. Companies don't care about your city, if they find it to be too difficult to do business there, they'll leave. Maybe in super-dense urban areas, transit really can handle most trips simply because of it's age and pre-existing density prior to the automotive age, but to suggest that you could "NYC-ize" any one of these newer, less dense metro regions is simply asinine. Covering up a highway? Yeah, that I can totally understand for certain areas. But not removal....just driving on the mess that is the West Side Highway south of 59th street has shown me all I need to know about what kind of a mess that makes for.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KeepRightPassLeft View Post
If the highway nearest to my house was removed because it's also used a lot by thru traffic, it would also inconvenience me and the people of my neighborhood...for a variety of trips. And trips that simply cannot be easily replaced by just "adding and taking transit", which is a very simplistic view and just assumes that everything inside the bounds of every city is at least of a northeastern Brooklyn-type density...even then, cars still serve a huge purpose. Just looking at a map of Baltimore, I'm sure that there are a lot of residents in the northern part of the city who would be inconvenienced greatly by the removal of I-83 within the city limits for some arbitrary reason and just being told "take transit instead or sit in traffic on a road with a lot of lights".
Exactly. What good could possibly come out of removing a freeway? How could such an action ever make the transportation system more efficient? How could it ever improve mobility for the people? It cannot. Barring a "Life After People" type of scenario, demolishing roadways and reducing capacity and mobility is the antithesis of the very purpose of the transportation system, and I would argue the antithesis of the American Dream.

Besides, I don't see what good could come out of replacing a free-flowing freeway with a monstrous boulevard where drivers are idling at traffic lights half the time and proceeding at much lower speed. There would still be a lot of road noise and there would be more pollution, and a six-lane boulevard will still act as a barrier between neighborhoods, perhaps even more so than a six-lane freeway. If it's well-designed foot traffic and car traffic can easily cross a grade-separated road via bridges or underpasses, but that's not the case with a boulevard with at-grade junctions. I grant that the vast majority of urban freeways aren't designed like that, but my point is that a boulevard is inferior to a well-designed freeway in every respect.

As for the damage and suffering that the freeways imposed upon people in the city, I understand that, and I'm on the record as being opposed to plowing down neighborhoods for new through routes. However, what is done is done and cannot be undone. Those neighborhoods have already been divided and demolished, in most cases long ago, and the suffering has already been imposed on a one-time basis when the neighborhoods were demolished. Most of these routes were built in the 1950's and 60's, and most of the owners of these homes bought them with full knowledge of their proximity to the freeway. I would be opposed to razing neighborhoods to build new through routes, but demolishing them now would be like locking the barn door after the horse has gone. Nothing we do now could erase that damage from history, and the least productive action imaginable would be to inflict new damage upon motorists.

Two wrongs don't make a right.

Quote:
It's not just a matter of "inconveniencing the drivers", but a reality that now you're going to shoehorn a lot of angry drivers through a neighborhood you're trying to make into a safe, fun, vibrant urban space...put the road underground and save the above ground for your mixed-use local community. Yeah, it's expensive but I think that's the best way to handle it for everyone going forward.
Exactly. If the through route is buried you could even do without the monstrous boulevard and have a more "normal" urban fabric where the freeway once was, while the motorists are merrily speeding along in a tunnel. It might be expensive but I think the old adage "you get what you pay for" applies in this case.

Quote:
It's a win-win, but it's expensive...so honestly I think a marginal toll for the express roadway underground would be fine....if that money went to cover expenses for that particular road. And it would be a project worth building, that would benefit both automotive/truck traffic, waterfront development, pedestrians and bicyclists and the city in general.
If a marginal toll would help get such a project built, then toll it. If "urban renewal" is to be done at all, it should be done right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KeepRightPassLeft View Post
Ahh this section [...] But I can understand the practical side of it and that the cheap thrill I described is trumped by much greater concerns for all stakeholders involved in the roadway: the neighbors, people who work nearby, the local environment, local and thru motorists, etc...I think that when it's time to replace that viaduct, they could tunnel from where it transitions from the open cut (between Chase and Madison Streets) and terminate as currently set up (President Street). The stretch near U of Baltimore from Chase Street to approximately Howard Street/Maryland Avenue could be simply covered up, which would sort of make it like a tunnel section, and maybe add a surface avenue...though it looks like Mt Royal Ave has the local traffic covered...so maybe a park?
That elevated freeway is old, decaying, and just doesn't look good, so a tunnel would be a superior replacement, especially if the tunnel had more lanes. Also, underground freeways are a rare and neat experience for a driver, so I don't think drivers would miss much .

Quote:
That being said, I don't know if traffic in the area would warrant this connection as I'm not that familiar with it....I just figured it'd be helpful to remove as much of that automotive traffic from surface streets and throw it underground.

Of course I made a diagram in Google Maps because all I ever do is use Google Maps haha

Baltimore Highway - Google Maps
Great diagram. However, I don't think the connector is necessary, because through traffic is already served by the I-695 beltway. I'm not aware of exactly how well those drivers are served, but if they're being served poorly I'd recommend beefing up the beltway. For drivers that want to go downtown a connection isn't necessary, since they're already in downtown by the time both freeways end.

Last edited by Patricius Maximus; 05-07-2013 at 07:46 PM..
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Old 05-07-2013, 07:49 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

Over $104,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum and additional contests are planned
 
Location: Long Island / NYC
45,991 posts, read 42,018,377 times
Reputation: 14810
As to the West Side Highway, the original plan was to replace the elevated with a tunnel, but plans got bogged down, it was unpopular with locals*, the mayor was against for some time. Funds were moved to repair the subway system The elevated structure had to be removed, it wasn't aesthetically awful it was starting to collapse. At this point, considering that the highway was underwater after Hurricane Sandy, building a flood-proof tunnel next to the Hudson would be difficult. As for myself, I can see why some might felt it useful, but having almost never driven into the lower half of Manhattan, it seems more like a luxury than anything particularly important.



File:West Side Highway collapsed at 14th.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

*The majority of locals (80% of Manhattan residents) don't own cars. About 3/4 of those who enter Manhattan do not enter by private vehicle.
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:44 PM
 
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Here we go again.

Someone suggests tearing down a redundant, lightly used, 2 mile section of interstate and people reply with:

"why do you want to tear down all freeways?!!"

The fact is that it looks like someone threw the Olympic rings over downtown Detroit. You don't need that any freeways that close to each other. It's ridiculous, expensive and is preventing the growth in downtown Detroit from spreading beyond that central ring.

Another reason for getting rid of them is that the system as a whole is overbuilt, it induces demand that wouldn't be there otherwise and we can't afford to maintain what we have. The gas tax needs to double before we talk about rebuilding urban interstates with traffic counts below 30,000.
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Old 05-09-2013, 08:05 AM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
6,473 posts, read 11,109,839 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeepRightPassLeft View Post
I was speaking in more of a general term, towards this whole idea that urban highways should just be removed without a better replacement. I understand the points you were making.



Ahh this section...yeah I guess as an avid driver I do have a little bias since I do highly enjoy driving on highways like this (when traffic is light of course lol) where you can see the vista of the skyline and rest of the city as you carve through at relatively high speeds....kind of the whole allure that these kind of highways had back when they were first envisioned and designed. But I can understand the practical side of it and that the cheap thrill I described is trumped by much greater concerns for all stakeholders involved in the roadway: the neighbors, people who work nearby, the local environment, local and thru motorists, etc...I think that when it's time to replace that viaduct, they could tunnel from where it transitions from the open cut (between Chase and Madison Streets) and terminate as currently set up (President Street). The stretch near U of Baltimore from Chase Street to approximately Howard Street/Maryland Avenue could be simply covered up, which would sort of make it like a tunnel section, and maybe add a surface avenue...though it looks like Mt Royal Ave has the local traffic covered...so maybe a park?

Though, if I was to really go all the way, I would have it continue underground and come up at Ostend & Sharp near the stadiums, to take even more surface traffic out of the whole downtown/inner harbor area and just connect the two as one road (re-designate I-395 to I-83 all the way to the junction at I-95). That being said, I don't know if traffic in the area would warrant this connection as I'm not that familiar with it....I just figured it'd be helpful to remove as much of that automotive traffic from surface streets and throw it underground.

Of course I made a diagram in Google Maps because all I ever do is use Google Maps haha

Baltimore Highway - Google Maps
I appreciate your ideas - and your acknowledgement of the "cheap thrill" aspect. I don't think the cost-benefit analysis of tunnelling would really shake out in your favor, though 83 would become over-capacity so quickly with this route, and it's presently as wide as it's going to get in most places, constrained by its valley. It would be jammed with thru travelers and truckers seeking an alternate, untolled route across the Patapsco and cease being of any use to local residents.

It was of course originally supposed to continue over the harbor and connect with 95, which would have obliterated what became some of Baltimore's most expensive residential and commerical real estate, as well as tourist areas. There's a reason the areas east of the wide boulevard President St (which 83 becomes) thrive



and those east of the elevated portion of the expressway struggle -



and the reason is the structure itself.

I think removing the elevated portion and extending the boulevard is reasonable. The benefits for the development of the surrounding areas are immense. The benefits for inducing further demand are ... just not there. "Cheap" thrills, as you said.

It was commented by someone else "so what, it's there already, there's no point in taking it down." I obviously disagree. As it's not a thru highway, it's use is already somewhat one-dimensional. We are talking about trading a minor inconvenience for (mostly) suburban commuters to make unattractive neighborhoods attractive for development, the upside of which negates any loss of productivity an extra 3 minutes of travel time is going to cost.
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Old 05-09-2013, 08:22 AM
 
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Good post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HandsUpThumbsDown View Post
It was commented "so what, it's there already, there's no point in taking it down." I obviously disagree. As it's not a thru highway, it's use is already somewhat one-dimensional. We are talking about trading a minor inconvenience for (mostly) suburban commuters to make unattractive neighborhoods attractive for development, the upside of which negates any loss of productivity an extra 3 minutes of travel time is going to cost.
This is the same argument in Philly with I-95.

Except that in Philly the idea is to fill in the trench from the Ben Franklin Bridge south to Washington Ave (or thereabouts) and replace that ~1 mile stretch of the interstate with a Blvd. People flip out like it's the end of the world "all that traffic! where's it gonna go!?"

If you're part of the general flow of traffic coming down from Northeast Philly, 80% of it exits on to 676 or takes one of the local exits into Center City in the vicinity of the Ben Franklin.

Another 10% take the next exit 3/4 of a mile further down. Another 5% are exiting at the Walt Whitman Bridge (or one of the local exits at that interchange)

In a nutshell 95% of the traffic in between the bridges is coming from or going to some place in between the bridges.
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