Comment 81275

By Chevron (anonymous) | Posted September 26, 2012 at 14:44:10

Re: "Dozens of cities across North America, including.... Louisville, Ky., have converted their one-way streets to two ways."

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From today's New York Times:

A half-century or so ago Louisville, like so many American cities, bet the farm on cars and suburbia. It sacrificed a swath of its downtown to three interstate highways. There was the usual reasoning: highways would bring business, without which downtown, already struggling, would shrivel and expire.

Blocks of historic commercial warehouses and banks were leveled as a consequence; the center of the city was severed from Louisville’s spectacular waterfront; mass transit was largely abandoned and many corners of town transformed into parking lots. Around the same time the construction of a plaza and a hotel, along with a Mies van der Rohe building that commanded a singular view of the falls on the Ohio River, aspired partly to reconnect the city to the water. But the completion of the big John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge leading into downtown capped off the massive entanglement of highways that produced what locals came to call Spaghetti Junction.

And the traffic?

It got worse.

Since then cities everywhere have been tearing down postwar highways that ripped through downtowns. They’ve replaced them with parks and streets and neighborhoods. It has happened from Seoul and San Francisco to Milwaukee and Madrid. In San Francisco removal of the Central Freeway has turned a destitute neighborhood into one of the most fashionable quarters of the city. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati (which is linked to Louisville by one of the interstates rumbling through downtown) have made headlines, too, successfully recovering historic riverfronts.

So what is Louisville doing now?

Pursuing a plan that would, in part, enlarge the downtown highways and construct a second bridge next to the Kennedy. It would even eat up some of a park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, of Prospect Park and Central Park fame. Louisville is a car city with auto plants and a big investment in the auto industry. But still, I was stunned to hear this.

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