Sunday, May 29, 2011

Take Out Manhattan's East River Drive?


Currently, the Carl Schurz Park is separated from the bountiful waters of the East River, which it was once connected to in the past. In between the Park and the water lies the Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive – commonly known as the FDR Drive. It forms the line of demarcation between the interior of the East Side and the East River, running approximately nine and a half miles long. Two layers of the FDR separate the Carl Schurz Park from the East River: the northbound FDR lanes the on the middle layer, and the southbound FDR lanes on the bottom layer, with the park itself on the top layer. Although the parkway is a necessary facet of the area, and serves a vital purpose for commuters, it also has several harmful polluting effects on the park and its the species. Therefore, our proposed idea is to redirect the Parkway away from the park, so that it can once again be joined with the aquatic environment and species that it has previously been joined with in the past. Reconnecting the park to the waterfront could return it to a more natural state.

Models for Reconnection:

Cheonggye Freeway, South Korea: In the 1970s, the Cheonggye River in Seoul, Korea, was covered and a road and elevated freeway were built over it. By the year 2000, the area became one of the most congested and noisy parts of Seoul. IT was decided that the freeway would have to be removed in order to combat these issues, as well as stimulate the economy. Freeway demolition began in June, 2003 and was completed in September, 2003. Stream restoration began in July, 2003 and was completed in September, 2005. In March, 2003, Seoul began constructing its first Bus Rapid Transit line, which serves the route of the freeway and is designed to accommodate the drivers of the 120,000 cars that used the road every day. It was completed in June, 2003, at the same time the freeway was closed.

The Korea project was about demolishing an elevated 4 lane freeway, and its flanking 5 lane service surface roads, and uncovering the stream that had been previously paved over.

It is IMHO unwise to come to too many conclusions about the Cheonggye Freeway removal's transport utility without finding any before and after maps (only finding before and after pictures about the obvious that the project made the place much prettier and infinitely more pedestrian friendly).

However, the East River Drive, otherwise known as the FDR Drive is Manhattan's sole remaining full north-south freeway, with the parallel West Side Highway no longer filling the colloquially accepted definition of such with the post Westway defeatism consigning that corridor’s vehicular traffic to traffic lights south of 57th Street.

It's a telling indication where this nation is headed when the universities and the foundation type entities are supporting such nonsense to waste countless person-hours while increasing pedestrian-vehicular conflict, rather than the truly progressive type projects as recently completed in Madrid, Spain.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Madrid, Spain Reclaims Riverfront

Madrid Big Dig - Proyecto Madrid Rio
Buries M-30 beneath new parks along Madrid's Manzanares River

An interesting project I have NOT seen on any of the mainstream blogs such as Streetsblog nor the Infrastructuralist in conformity to the elitist doctrinaire bias for removing freeways -

Indeed, explore Madrid to see how the cookie-cutter 'environmentalist' and 'new urbanist' entities continually *pretend* that freeways and grade separation don't fit within urban environments.


1. Construction of a new 4 kilometer tunnel along the river banks
2. Construction of a new 3.8 kilometer tunnel in the northern intersection
3. Renovation of all intersections with national highways
4. Creation of 6 new exits and access routes along the ring
5. Construction of a 6 kilometer by-pass tunnel connecting the east and west sides of the city

The M 30 had been build decades earlier.

This project was not simply covering the existing M 30, but rather digging it down, and not only for the M 30 but for connecting routes, such as that from the southwest.
It was reported at

The ambitious plan by Madrid’s mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón to submerge a section of the M30 ring motorway immediately adjacent to the old city centre within a tunnel was realised within a single term of office. The city undertook infrastructure measures over a total length of 43 kilometres, six of them along the banks of the River Manzanares, at a total cost of six billion Euro. West 8 together with a group of renowned architects from Madrid, united under the name MRIO arquitectos led by Ginés Garrido Colomero designed the master plan for Madrid RIO.

In 2005, an invited international competition was announced. The proposal submitted by West8 and MRIO for the design of the reclaimed area above the tunnel was the only submission to resolve the urban situation exclusively by means of landscape architecture. The design is founded on the idea »3 + 30« – a concept which proposes dividing the 80 hectare urban development into a trilogy of initial strategic projects that establish a basic structure which then serves as a solid foundation for a number of further projects, initiated in part by the municipality as well as by private investors and residents. A total of 47 subprojects with a combined total budget of 280 million Euros have since been developed, the most important of which include: the Salón de Pinos, Avenida de Portugal, Huerta de la Partida, Jardines de Puente de Segovia, Jardines de Puente de Toledo, Jardines de la Virgen del Puerto and the Parque de la Arganzuela. In addition to the various squares, boulevards and parks, a family of bridges were realised that improve connections between the urban districts along the river. The first subprojects were realised in spring 2007. The realization of the whole project is planned for spring 2011.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Continuing BS Artists Against 'Big Dig West'

The Sierra Club anti environmentalists are at it contiunually.

People think of them as about protecting wildernesses.

Yet when it comes to projects allowing and reconciling greater amounts of human activity within a given developed footprint- this is where they instead go the other way. DON'T build ANY new vehicular road capacity. Especially grade seperated, including tunneled.

This is a strategy of employing simple slogans to stir emotions and a disregard of any facts that would be seen as insane applied anywhere else.

For instance "Big Dig West', regarding Seattle's planned Route 99 Tunnel, conjuring up night mare visions of construction and operationable disasters, ignoring variable of construction let alone such basic things as featherbedded non competitive bid contracts, shoddy concrete, and some highly questionble design details, such as a guardrail design, say upon a right turning curved ramp, to sever people's arms, and worse, dropped ceiling of 6000lb concrete panels relying upon mere adhesive with its extremely unforgiving narrow window of acceptable curing conditions.

Are we suposed to think that such matters are unique to the Boston CAT Project, nor not matters of concern with anything else? Shoddy construction and contracting OK with say rail projects and transit oriented development?

Shoddy arguments abound with the Sierra Club arguments:

1. It lacks exits. True, though the tunnel would serve as 2/2 or 3/3 express lanes of a Route 99 with an express/local 'split', with the tunnel's parallelling local lanes being the new Alaska Way waterfront boulevard.

2. It encourages driving. Yes, allowing and reconcling greater human activity within a given developed footprint. It does not stop the development of transit and transit oriented development.

3. It encourages the production of more greenhouse gasses. It might do that, though that hardly need mean the release of such gasses into the general atmosphere, because even though a free-flowing road without traffic lights allowing more traffic, it is also a great way with the tunnel enclosure to concentrate and collect such gases for producing algae fuel.

The Sierra Club alternative of no vehicular tunnel, all vehicular traffic on the surface might well produce just as much- conceivably with fewer autos, but more stop-start events- think of wasted time & fuel and far greater vehicular - pedestrian conflict, and of course a 100% release of such gasses produced into the general atmosphere.

Accompanying this are ideas that are either in their own right commendable, such as more transit, and others that are not thought out to their feasibility. A particularly egregious example being the idea of improving Seattle's parallelling I-5- sure some extra lanes would be nice, but how do they fit beneath Seattle I-95's downtown Freeway Park?

Has anyone instead looked at the idea of a 99 Tunnel with greater capacity, with a larger bore (2 levels as planned but with 3 lane plus a shoulder rather then the planned 2 lanes plus shoulder in each direction), with planning for a future parallel tube with connections to serve as an express I-5 relief route? Drilling bored tunnels beneath Seattle is going to be infinitely less destruptive and a greater value then propping up Freeway Park as downtown Seattle I-5 is widened. The no 99 Tunnel, add lanes to parallel Seatle I-5, idea combination disregard feasibility and bang per buck.

Of course we have the standard doctrine.

But that just happens to serve petroleum by convincing people that there are simly NO alternative, we must tightern our belw while the elites don't.

Must punishing people for the sins of the elites be "environmentalist", or rather elitist?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Streetsblog Pretends there are too many new vehicular road projects

Where the highways are not simply falling apart, but most were never even built.

“but the fact of the matter is when you look at how our dollars are deployed at the state level they’re deployed in a fashion that is inconsistent with where jobs are and where the economy is created.” That was fine was the U.S. was the world’s incomparable economic superpower, but we need to be more thoughtful with our spending these days, he said.

Beware these foundations from Washington, D.C., Manhattan, nor San Francisco, that claim that we have too many new urban road projects- they are about keeping the roads away from key properties and promoting the myth that there are no alternatives to petro via the 'white van' scapegoating of freeways- all for the devious distraction embodied in the above quote, from the obscene spending on the military and upon cigarette pharama mercantilism (the criminal drug war).

If they are that out of touch with reality regarding their locality, how can they continue to gather so much trust?

Granted there are many gullible college students ...