Michael Kimmerman, of The New York Times, reviews the cities around the world that are rethinking highways. Madrid is nearly finished burying a highway and restoring a river to create a six mile long park called Madrid Río. Seoul uncovered five miles of a paved-over river to create the Cheonggyecheon recreation area. San Francisco decided to take down the Embarcadero Freeway and not rebuild it after it was heavily damaged in the 1989 earthquake.All around the world, highways are being torn down and waterfronts reclaimed; decades of thinking about cars and cities reversed; new public spaces created.
Source: New York Times.
After the jump, the outlook close to home.
Robert Decherd is the CEO of the company that owns The Dallas Morning News and is rumored to be tapped by the City of Dallas to update the city's master parks plan. Unfair Park's Jim Schutze references a quote by Robert Decherd in a story by Rudy Bush in The Dallas Morning News:
I've always believed parks are the precursor of important development in the urban environment. The core can't succeed only as a result of commercial real estate development.Source: Unfair Park.
Schutze is dubious of Decherd's intentions. He bemoans "the stubborn determination of city leaders to ruin what could be one of the world's most exciting urban parks by sticking an unneeded, unfunded, unwanted and unsafe expressway right on top of the Trinity River."
So, I'm under no illusions about how easy it is to make a 180 degree change in urban design. I recognize that my dream of tearing down Central Expressway in Richardson and replacing it with a boulevard that's people-scaled is just a dream (almost certainly, most likely, probably, who knows?).
Still, if anything, these stories from Madrid, Seoul, San Francisco and elsewhere just make me dream even bigger. I used to dream of ways to punch through Central Expressway to better integrate east and west Richardson. Now I imagine, not just a grand boulevard replacing Central Expressway, but a miles-long Central Park in Richardson, drawing people to the park and development along the fringes.
Practical? Maybe not. But it's an inspiring alternative to the depressing redevelopment plans that bring us proposals for things like more gas stations to feed the insatiable appetite of cars.