31 March 2009

Random notes from the roadfront

Now for some random local notes of the viatological variety:

Burbank Drive project complete

I believe that this is the first major road expansion to open under the auspices of the Green Light Plan. This project completes the twinning of Burbank Drive and provides a continuous four lane connection between downtown and south Baton Rouge via LSU.

Since this was originally constructed as a two lane road on a four lane ROW by the state in the 1980s, only minimal ROW acquisition was required and construction proceeded relatively rapidly.


New Orleans master plan calls for removal of I-10 Claiborne viaduct

This is a pie-in-the-sky, fantasy bullshit idea dreamed up by some dickhead Northern planners who obviously hate automobiles more than they feel any sort of dedication to balanced transportation planning principles.

Originally, Claiborne Avenue thru Treme was a surface boulevard with a generous, oak-shaded neutral ground, and served as the business district of sorts for the New Orleans Black community in the era of formal racial segregation. During the 1967-9 timeframe, the La. Department of Highways constructed the I-10 elevated highway along this neutral ground, utilizing the most logical and easily obtained open corridor of land through the downtown area. Ever since, area residents have bemoaned the highway’s negative effects on the neighborhood, even as it has become a crucial artery for regional traffic.

One hundred thousand automobiles rely on the Claiborne elevated to conduct their daily travels. It is too critical a piece of infrastructure to eliminate. Like an old fence which vines have covered, to remove it is to create a gaping hole in the infrastructure systems which hundreds of thousands depend upon daily. Any discussion of removing the viaduct now is moot; this should have occurred at the time of construction. I am generally in favor of preserving neighborhood integrity, but not at the expense of compromising regional mobility.

I love how the dickhead “urbanists” speak of freeway eliminations in other cities such as San Francisco, Oklahoma City, and Milwaukee in situations such as this. Disingenuous talk it is. Those freeways were generally spur routes into downtown areas, or were replaced by a new freeway facility at a nearby location. The Claiborne elevated comprises a central part of an important trunkline freeway.

And the state will certainly be cool to any proposal to remove the viaduct, so long as engineering-oriented pragmatists rule the day at DOTD. The viaduct is showing its age, but there is no way that anything less than a replacement freeway will sit in its place after it reaches the end of its lifespan.

Besides, nothing can save those neighborhoods now in their supreme decline toward moral squalor and decadence. The reign of the thug and superfly is far too entrenched in the New Orleans ghetto to-day for the disappearance of a mere freeway to make much of a difference. These are problems rooted in the infrastructure not of the utilitarian variety, but of the moral fabric of society.

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