What is Louisville thinking?

Louisville, like many cities, expanded their network of freeways after World War II, carving up their downtown area,  to accommodate more and more traffic in hopes of bringing more business to their downtown areas. But it didn’t work.

And the more highways they built in hopes of lessening the congestion? That backfired. Traffic just increased.

Now, most cities are tearing down their highways replacing them with parks and streets and neighborhoods, encouraging the use of public transit and promoting walkable neighborhoods.

So what is Louisville doing now? They plan to enlarge their downtown highways and construct a second bridge over the Ohio River.

They are certainly going against a national trend.

Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times writes, “… removing the highways, or downscaling them, might turn downtown and its adjacent neighborhoods, including the riverfront, into more attractive places. And where highways have come down in other cities, property values have gone up. What brings life to a city are attractions, services, homes and walkable streets.

At the very least, Louisville needs to devote far more resources to public transit. It’s great that the riverfront park opened and that groups of citizens are nurturing neighborhoods. But why repeat costly mistakes? We see traffic problems today and ask how to ease them. But it’s better to start by thinking about what kind of streets and neighborhoods a city wants, what kind of waterfront it should have and how mass transit could change things.”

“But why repeat costly mistakes.” It’s the same idea in Syracuse. Time for a new way of thinking.

Jan

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