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  #1  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2004, 9:45 PM
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Comprehensive Freeway Plans

I came across this suggested freeway plan for Pittsburgh from 1963. Most of it hasn't been built (and won't be) because of the regions declining economy, and while I'm not a fan of the local recession, I am glad these planners didn't get a chance to completely screw up a lot of great neighborhoods.



So, does anyone else have freeway plans of what could have been (for better or for worse)? I know these have been posted hodge podge on other threads, but I think it would be neat to bring them all together to one place.
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  #2  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2004, 9:54 PM
J Church J Church is offline
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dear god.

ye olden san fran pavement plan:



actually, the '50s version was a lot less scary than the '40s:



that's golden gate park w/ freeways on either side, either end and two across it. just nuts.
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  #3  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2004, 2:51 AM
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this is what the whole bay area could have looked like:

this was the plan in 1963




And here are some of the plans for crossing the Long Island Sound:
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  #4  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2004, 3:11 AM
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J Church - but do people in the Bay Area travelling on the 101 find it inconveinent without at least a partial freeway downtown?

Also about Vancouver - sure anti-freewayism there may be predominant, but it seems pretty feasible to build an expressway from TC-1 to near downtown... after all it's not wrong to have some highways.

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  #5  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2004, 10:47 AM
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Looking at freeway plans for cities from the 40s and 50s is pretty scary.
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  #6  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2004, 5:41 PM
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J Church - but do people in the Bay Area travelling on the 101 find it inconveinent without at least a partial freeway downtown?

yeah, many find the no-freeway-through-the-city thing annoying. others of us find it refreshing and appropriate. it is wrong to have highways where there were mature, dense neighborhoods.
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  #7  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2004, 6:04 PM
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Here is a better, more detailed view of what San Francisco would have looked like with its original freeway plan.



Also, as a San Francisco driver, yes it is inconveinent that the freeway doesn't travel downtown. It really doesn't bother me though because there are various routes on city streets into downtown. Unfortunately in other parts of the city, San Francisco thinks it can stop freeways without accomodating the existing traffic (i.e. 19th Ave, the now defunct Central Freeway, etc) We have freeway-like traffic traveling on some city streets.
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  #8  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2004, 6:55 PM
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Wow that would have completely destroyed the character and vibrancy of San Francisco's neighborhoods. Let alone the physical destruction of 10 lanes of concrete snaking throughout the city. And then dont forget all the feeder/arterial roads needed to support the traffic to & from the freeways. Thank god for the freeway revolt!
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  #9  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2004, 7:20 PM
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True, but as I have stated in other threads concerning this topic, San Francisco should still look at some of these routes to allievate traffic traveling on certain streets. The #1 priority should be a north/ south route connecting the Golden Gate Bridge and Interstate 280 at Daly City. Right now, 19th Ave and Park Presidio are two city streets with freeway like traffic. Another route that should be examined is the Southern Crossing to the East Bay from Interstate 280. It's a little ridiculous that traffic from across the city has to get on I-80 through downtown to get to the Bay Bridge.
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  #10  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2004, 8:16 PM
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You can go Big Dig nuts...
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  #11  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2004, 10:12 PM
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yeah, we looked into that. and looked away. it would've been comparable in cost to the big dig (not as complex, but on a greater scale).

tony, what would you rather have, 19th ave as a parking lot or a big, dark monster slicing and dicing the sunset? as for the southern crossing, MTC just looked at that and it was something on the order of $9B minimum. you have to think of all the other things we could do w/ that money to increase mobility and livability.

but we've been round and round on this one before. here's an interesting tidbit about the proposed SF freeway network that folks don't talk about - the existing freeways are 8-10 lanes, but the parts of the rest of the network that were built but since demolished were 6 (the embarcadero) and even 4 (the central). not only would we have had demolition to build them, but we'd have had to suffer through a later round of destruction as they were widened. seriously: imagine 8 lanes elevated through north beach or the panhandle. so long san francisco.
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  #12  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2004, 10:29 PM
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Not suggesting that these could be or should have been built, but what about depressed freeways? These are a lot less intrusive than elevated ones... from 1 or 2 blocks away you can hardly hear or see a difference from street level... There are several around Richmond, and a few I can think of in a few other cities, and in terms of these qualities, they aren't as bad as grade-level freeways or elevated ones. But of course, they are generally 1-2 blocks wide, so there has been a demolition of historic housing stock, but this could be rectified by capping these freeways and building on top of them.
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  #13  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2004, 11:16 PM
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well, yeah, underground mitigates most of the damage (better if you just bore and don't have to cut and cover). but $$$.
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  #14  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2004, 11:36 PM
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The cost of it just doesn't justify boring freeways underground in San Francisco not just because the city is urban and dense, but the economic benefits to the city would be far outweighed by the costs. SF is more of an international business and financial center than a major port. Yes, it handles some cargo (althouhg Oakland handles a lot as well), but SF is not the major port city that Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and New York/Jersey are. Only in cities that fit both scenarios and have insane land values is tunneling of freeways justified for economic productivity, and there are very few cases of that in the world. New York, yes. Hong Kong, yes. Tokyo, DEFINITELY yes (and perhaps has more than any other city in the world).

Urban freeways are necessary to some extent all over the world. Even Europe has some exceptions to the "no freeways through urban areas" rule. The problem is that the US just went all out with the construction of the interstate system and many of these were built before NIMBYism could stop the process. Also, it's a give and take where the economic productivity produced has to justify the cost of tunneling or making it actually "nice." Boston's Big Dig is a shining example of what an urban freeway should be. But it sure as hell wasn't worth $14 billion +.
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  #15  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2004, 11:40 PM
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Why do freeways have to be big, dark monstrocities? I don't know how it's exactly like in San Francisco, but could it be possible to retrofit existing streets with the removal of some intersections (perhaps not into a full freeway)?
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  #16  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2004, 12:39 AM
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you mean make an expressway of an arterial? mmm, not really for reasons i won't bore you w/. and it wouldn't do much about the base problem of too few lanes trying to handle too much volume. oh, and urban freeways are either big, dark monstrosities or they're giant gashes - pick your poison.

rail, you're right on all counts. btw, sorry to have taken this thread on such a tangent.
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Old Posted Feb 5, 2004, 12:49 AM
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I dont think planning should be geared toward the comfort of suburban drivers coming into the city. It should reflect a desire to preserve the overall quality of life of San Francisco, which has the lowest automobile ownership rate in California. The reason why we've spent billions on Public Transit is so people can use it.

Could you imagine a freeway over Van Ness Avenue?
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  #18  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2004, 12:55 AM
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^Through San Francisco given its streetscape and setting, hell no.

Through any particular city? Yes: Tokyo has a lot of elevated 4-lane freeways through its core that are primarily used by trucks. But Tokyo is a VERY special case where space is such a commodity and land value is so high that not even a huge concrete structure in the air could even hope to devaluate it. In fact, it's a special case where at night, the structures sort of enhance the streetscape in that surreal "only in Tokyo" way.
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  #19  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2004, 1:16 AM
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This was the exact debate (communities vs. commuters) that occured in Portland, OR (along with many many other cities) regarding the proposed Mt. Hood Freeway in the 1970s.

http://www.wweek.com/html/25-hwy.html

Highway To Hell
Nothing shaped Portland so much as the murder of the
Mount Hood Freeway.
BY BOB YOUNG

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If there was one event that has defined Portland in the last 25 years, it was killing the Mount Hood Freeway--a six-mile, eight-lane asphalt behemoth that would have vaulted across the river from Johns Landing to I-205.
The story of the freeway's demise is a tale of urban America after World War II and a lesson in what distinguishes Portland from other West Coast cities. It gave us strong neighborhoods, proud schools and MAX. It cemented the region's commitment to ecology and the reputation of a brilliant political leader. The murder not only saved 1,750 households in Southeast Portland from the wrecking ball, it also established Portland's philosophy of urban livability--the idea that cities are for people, not just for commerce and cars.

"It's still quite unique that a city looked to a solution other than building additional roads," says John Fregonese, former planning director at Metro. "I recently told the Mount Hood Freeway story in Austin and an elected official stood up and said it was a travesty and sacrilege to turn down a perfectly good freeway."

"It was Portland's defiant 'no' to Los Angeles and Seattle, which had, in effect, dismembered themselves," adds Alan Webber, who was an aide to former Mayor Neil Goldschmidt and is now editor of Fast Company, a Boston business magazine. "You can think of it as tearing up Robert Moses' postwar transportation plan."

Indeed, the godfather of the freeway was none other than Moses, the fearsome architect of modern New York City, who built the bridges and expressways that move millions of people and megatons of freight around the nation's largest metropolis. In 1943, the power brokers of Portland--the five white men of the City Council and the city's utility, banking and insurance executives--brought Moses west to modernize their little town.

Moses' vision called for new freeways slicing up Portland like a pizza. His plan would triple the mileage of blacktop: There'd be the Whitaker Freeway, the 20th Avenue Expressway, the West Side Bypass, the Rose City Freeway and more. "It was a grid of freeways with a school and church within each grid cell," says Ethan Seltzer, director of the Institute of Metropolitan Studies at Portland State University.

The jewel in the crown was a new east-west freeway that would start south of the Marquam Bridge, cross the Willamette on a new bridge and plow through Southeast Portland, just south of Division Street, as it connected to the new I-205, past 82nd Avenue. One shoulder of this new freeway would rest right where the southernmost booths now sit in Dots Cafe. Eventually the freeway would extend east to Gresham and beyond.

Moses' freeways were a response to a profound change in American society: The growth of the suburb. The shift was dramatic: In 1940, 61 percent of the region's population lived in Portland. By 1970, that population had doubled to 1 million, but only 38 percent lived in Portland.

The idea was to curb urban decay and keep the central business district alive by allowing commuters easy access from their ever-more-distant suburban homes. But what planners failed to realize was that freeways actually accelerated urban decay by destroying neighborhoods and sucking residents out to the suburbs.

In addition, the wrecking ball would have crashed disproportionately into the homes of poor and elderly people. The area slated for paving was labeled a "poverty pocket" by the federal government: 68 percent of the families had annual incomes of less than $10,000.

Local resistance surfaced in southeast Portland in 1969 as the city started buying properties to clear the way for eight lanes of new blacktop. Al and Kayda Clark, a couple in their mid-30s, led the grassroots resistance. After delivering mail during the day, Al Clark found time at night to attend meetings and organize the neighborhoods. Yet the neighborhood activists lacked the muscle to overcome the will of the City Council, County Commission, Oregon State Highway Division, Federal Highway Administration, Chamber of Commerce and The Oregonian--all of whom supported the freeway.

Then along came a young legal-aid lawyer named Neil Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt had traveled to Mississippi with the Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights struggle of the early 1960s and, like many of his peers, had dabbled in the anti-war movement and the 1968 presidential campaign of Bobby Kennedy. But after the demoralizing assassinations of Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. and election of Richard Nixon, Goldschmidt and other activists decided it would be easier to fix local problems than global ones.

In 1969, the movement against the freeway coalesced around the City Council campaigns of Goldschmidt and contractor Tom Walsh. About 200 strong, these young people were looking to organize support for a "different way" of life in Portland, as Elsa Coleman--now a transportation official with the city of Portland--remembers it. Like Coleman, many were women interested in the burgeoning ecology movement or couples in their late 20s who were buying houses and starting families. Inspired by Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities, they were determined to fight for their vision of Portland's future.

The stage was set for a titanic battle over the Mount Hood Freeway. Goldschmidt assembled an impressive range of arguments. He emphasized the importance of strong schools and neighborhoods in keeping the middle class in a city. He recognized Portland's growing interest in ecology. He combined those concerns with compassion for the poor, sprinkled in a dash of Oregon pride and Camelot optimism, and pulled it all together in something called his "Population Strategy."

"Cities had become the habitat of old people, single young people and the very poor. What was missing was the cream filling in the Oreo cookie," says Webber. "Our quest was for policies that would stem the tide of people fleeing to the suburbs."

Then came the master stroke: Goldschmidt hooked up with national experts who were pioneering the idea that cities ought to be able to transfer federal highway money to other transportation options. This was crucial because it meant that killing the freeway wouldn't cost Portland the golden egg of $500 million in federal funding--a fantastic sum of money in the mid-'70s, money that represented thousands of jobs for the powerful labor unions.

Buoyed by a cadre of campaigners, a new coalition on the City Council, a fresh urban-planning ethic and a positive solution, Goldschmidt hammered away at the central question: Who pays and who benefits?

The answer was clear. City residents would pay, sacrificing their neighborhoods, schools and tax base. Suburban commuters would reap the benefits with a slightly shorter commute. What an injustice, argued the evangelical Goldschmidt. His reasoning even appealed to conservatives. Bill Scott, then a young lawyer and now the state's director of economic development, remembers canvassing for Goldschmidt in Southwest Portland and knocking on the door of a house with a rusted refrigerator on the front porch. Out came a mean-looking guy in an undershirt. "I can't stand what's going on in this town," the man said. "We're voting for Goldschmidt!"

Like a lumbering bull, the freeway plan died a slow death at the hands of the matador. The first blow came from a 1973 environmental-impact statement authored, serendipitously, by a bunch of progressive young architects at the firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill. The report was devastating. It said the freeway would not relieve congestion and would be obsolete by the time it was completed.

Then in February 1974, federal Judge James Burns ruled that the corridor selection process was invalid for procedural reasons and would have to be started anew. That meant more delays, higher costs, political aggravation and uncertainty. That summer, the City Council voted 4-1 to kill the freeway. "This freeway will hurt the people inside the city to the benefit of those outside," explained Commissioner Connie McCready.

County and state officials followed--thanks in large part to Goldschmidt's canny proposal to take the vast horde of federal freeway money and sprinkle it around the suburbs. "It was the first big regional decision and it established the precedent that everyone would get taken care of," says Scott. A stake had been driven through the heart of the freeway--or so it seemed.

In 1975, the Mount Hood plan was revived by the Chamber of Commerce, The Oregonian and mayoral candidate Frank Ivancie, who put up billboards saying, "If Ivancie was mayor, you'd be home now." Problem was, those signs appealed most to people who weren't Portland voters. Goldschmidt won re-election.

The freeway was officially dead, but its remains would prove powerful fertilizer. The federal money originally earmarked for it would go to build the transit mall, eastside MAX and a host of neighborhood and suburban transportation projects, such as Eastman Parkway in Gresham and Cornell Road in Hillsboro. "By killing the Mount Hood and transferring the money, Neil killed all of the freeways in line behind the Mount Hood," says Ron Buel, a former Goldschmidt aide and WW's founder.

But the legacy of the stillborn freeway would prove to be psychological as much as political. It showed that a city could save its neighborhoods, even inner-city neighborhoods, from the ravages of the internal combustion engine. It showed that Portland was a city with an open political system, not controlled by huge businesses like Boeing or General Motors. And it signalled that citizens could stand up to seemingly inevitable social forces if they simply decided to do something about it. "It was the time of Saul Alinsky and 'power to the people,'" says Mike Burton, Metro's executive officer. "Neil expressed Portland's version as 'power to the neighborhoods.'"
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  #20  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2004, 1:25 AM
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Through any particular city? Yes: Tokyo has a lot of elevated 4-lane freeways through its core that are primarily used by trucks. But Tokyo is a VERY special case where space is such a commodity and land value is so high that not even a huge concrete structure in the air could even hope to devaluate it. In fact, it's a special case where at night, the structures sort of enhance the streetscape in that surreal "only in Tokyo" way.
If I'm not mistaken the highways in Tokyo are elevated much higher than in the US like 4-5 stories up in the sky and dont create the same kinds of dark areas under them that destroy neighborhoods. And I recall that many are built over streets and less in their own right of ways requiring massive demolition.
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