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Cleveland ‘Highway Removal’ Looks Awfully Highway-Like

24 March 2011 46 Comments

It is an oft-lamented fact, both locally and nationally, that the city of Cleveland hasn’t taken full advantage of its position on the shore of Lake Erie. The national media, in its seemingly boundless enthusiasm for stories about the declining fortunes of the city where I live, is quick to point out that we haven’t taken advantage of what may be our best asset.

The West Shoreway is no place for pedestrians -- and it might not be any more welcoming after the re-do. Photo: ##http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/01/west_shoreway_project_gets_a_b.html##Thomas Ondrey/Plain Dealer##

Whether the publication is Forbes (Most Miserable City, Sixth Fastest Dying City) or Portfolio Magazine (Third Most Stressed City), the attention can start to feel like a cheap shot. Inevitably, they turn the blame for the city’s problems onto itself with observations like this one: Why hasn’t Cleveland developed its lakefront into an asset like the city of Baltimore or San Francisco?

Now NPR has run a story on the “teardown” of the West Shoreway freeway, highlighting plans to turn it into a tree-lined boulevard and break down a major barrier to the lake. The reporters liken the project to Milwaukee’s rejection of the Park East Freeway and San Francisco’s refusal to rebuild Embarcadero Freeway, turning high-speed roadways into parks.

But what’s really going on in Cleveland is a little less revolutionary.

NPR may have jumped the gun when it said the city was converting the freeway into a “slower, tree-lined boulevard.” So far, project sponsors have been unable to get the speed limit reduced legislatively. Other important attempts to make the road more pedestrian-friendly — such as the addition of stoplights and crosswalks — have been thwarted at the state level. It’s not clear just yet that the angry driver quoted by NPR has anything to worry about.

Currently, Cleveland’s lakefront is occupied by a massive public park, a private airport, the port, a water treatment plant, and the Cleveland Browns’ stadium. All of this is cut off from downtown and the city’s neighborhoods by a limited-access highway: Route 2, or the East/West Shoreway, as it is known locally. West-siders and downtown visitors hoping to access the lake must use one of a handful of poorly lit, deteriorating pedestrian tunnels that run under the highway. Otherwise, they can drive to the park via an exit on Route 2.

Several years ago, city planners and neighborhood activists on the west side hatched a plan to reconnect city residents to Lake Erie by converting the West Shoreway into a pedestrian-friendly boulevard. Planners recommended reducing the speed limit from 50 to 35, adding stoplights with crosswalks and installing a bike path.

Despite almost universal recognition of the importance of lake access, advancing the plan was not the slam dunk you might expect. In order to lower the speed limit, the state legislature would have to formally act in favor of the proposal. Although local planners estimated the reduction would cost the average commuter a mere 70 extra seconds of travel time, the legislation stalled in the statehouse. Even city council members from the farther-west wards of Cleveland came out against the plan, joining a powerful opposition group of suburban commuters.

Furthermore, in order to convert a limited-access highway into a boulevard with stoplights that would allow for pedestrian crossing, the plan would have to be approved by the Ohio Department of Transportation. After reviewing the proposal, ODOT nixed the stoplights, saying they would increase congestion. The city was forced to scale back plans.

Tunnels under the West Shoreway subordinate pedestrians to drivers, both literally and figuratively. Photo: ##http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/02/west_76th_street_pedestrian_tu.html##Cleveland.com##

Planners returned to the drawing board. What they came back with, and what NPR is now celebrating, bears a strong resemblance to what the roadway planners set out to replace. And the big losers, predictably, are pedestrians.

Rather than installing traffic signals, the city will invest $2.7 million in rebuilding and improving its pedestrian tunnels. Plans to redesign the highway with boulevard-style medians and the addition of trees are moving forward, but most of the aspects of the plan that would make the lakefront more accessible have been removed.

Although the addition of a bike and pedestrian trail survived, since it will be located on the lakeside of the highway, even bicyclists will have to access the paths through one of the tunnels.

Still, City Planning Director Bob Brown sees the plan as an improvement. He envisions the redesigned Shoreway as a near-replica of Chicago’s Lakeshore Boulevard. And perhaps his vision will coalesce. Cleveland’s Route 2 is undoubtedly already one of the state’s most scenic highways. The problem is those who currently benefit most from Cleveland’s prime position on Lake Erie are suburban commuters. The state’s policies advance the notion that Cleveland is a place to drive through, not a place to live.

The next time Cleveland appears on a national list — poorest, saddest, most-maligned — you might check for a few other likely targets: Cincinnati, Toledo, Youngstown, Dayton. When the writers point the finger of blame back at the cities, it’s worth considering their common thread: beyond sharing an industrial heritage, they’re all part of a state with a set of policies that actively undermines cities. The fact that the state of Ohio, in the form of a highway, is standing between Cleveland and its lakefront just goes to show how difficult a position these cities are in.

-A.S.

This article originally appeared at Streetsblog Capitol Hill.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    Thanks for cross posting this. My guess is the readership doesn’t overlap too much.

    As I commented before, I’m not thrilled about efforts to publicly fund transit–or roads at the state or federal level. Infrastructure must be tied to design and when it is, will often be self funding or paid for by developers.

    The way things are now–transit is pitched as just another charity.

    As we know, most urban areas are net tax donors on the state level and if left on their own with more of their own money, could very well fund their own infrastructure.

    This is blatantly clear from New York. The cutting edge of real urban renewal will come when cities start using pro urban design and start accurately tolling roads and parking.

  • Anon

    Actually, the planners probably got this right. I’ve live on LSD in Chicago and our shoreway. I would much rather have decent, frequent under/over passes than traffic lights. If you’re cycling, jogging or pushing a stroller, waiting at a light while cars and busses fly past is not pleasant. Crossing six lanes of traffic is also not pleasant or safe. Its much better to just get on the overpass and go.

    LSD in Chicago is a highway. Yes there are flowers, but the speed limit is 50 and people exceed that. It doesn’t prevent the lakefront path from being enjoyable and heavily used.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    Not familiar with Chicago, but NY’s former West Side Highway, West St, does have lights and a lower speed limit–along with a now thriving Chelsea, Meat District and West Village.No drivers, don’t love it, but the overall ease of more turnoffs along with easier crossing has helped the area economically.

    Which of course gets to a basic problem. Traffic engineers are trained to design roads to get people in and out, while the real problem of a city is about all kinds of people moving around and staying.

    That being said, tunnels are almost surely the least likely thing to be used and are likely to be viewed as dirty and unsafe.

  • tonyg

    Europeans/ Chinese all tunnel about EVERY intersection on major roadways in town. Both places have turned the tunnels into full economic zones, with shops/ tourist traps/ and in some cases great street food. The problem with route 2 is there’s not enough density to make that work. And given Clevelands winters we’re talking icy stairs down and a cold and damp walkway 5 months of the year.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    Gonna admit to having never been here–although I’ll be on a short trip to Cleveland soon.

    The width of road shown here doesn’t really look that wide–much more narrow than Queens Blvd in NYC where I grew up. Oh wait, the picture just shows one direction of traffic.

    Even so, the Wikipedia implies this is not a critical bypass road.

    “Because the Shoreway west of the I-90 portion does not connect to another limited access facility, it is underutilized and planned to be converted from a freeway to a surface street beginning in 2013.”

    I must admit to placing a certain weight on symbolism. I sort of understand the state DOT not wanting to have every bumpkinville demanding traffic lights everywhere. This is the waterfront near the downtown of one of the state’s biggest cities! A few lights, that say slow down, stop, look around, here you are–respect this place and it’s potential are not too much to ask for.

    That is supposed to be a goal, right, to have a place where people stop, walk around, do some shopping-live?

    Good luck with any high end development in a place where residents are treated like this.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris
  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    Two be specific, what I am imagining is perhaps four or five lights at the most, plus the speed limit reduction. One would add some more elevated or tunnel crossing points to that. My memory of West Street is a mix of crosswalks and other crossing points.

  • Special K

    Good post Angie. I tweeted it!

  • Michael

    It’s not the shoreway that is the problem, look at what’s on the other side of the shoreway between Wendy park and Edgewater. In fact you hav to drive to edgewater to get to Wendy park & wendy Park is almost Downtown.
    So you have Whiskey island(Wendy park), public housing,Sewage plant, Soap Box Derby Track Rail Yard, another Sewage treatment Plant and then edgewater park.
    I think the Shoreway actually does a service to it’s citizens.

  • Michael

    A positive turn on this would be the Rivergate Park Development on the West Bank of the Flats.
    Somehow(I am guessing St. Ignatius alum because they have a rowing club there) raised 3 million in grants and donations to put this project on the fast track.

  • schmange

    I have a tunnel story. So ok, I live right by the lake. I went for a walk one night and it got dark while I was down there. It gets dark at like 4 in the winter. So on my way back up, this guy walked out of the tunnel, saw me and then ducked back in. I thought it was pretty suspicious and he might try to rob me so I turned around and walked back to the park. The next tunnel was like 10 blocks up but they were repairing it so I couldn’t use it. I had to walk along the Shoreway and then cross at 76th. It was pretty unpleasant.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    Was looking on Google street view. There at least looks to be the ability to have light and crossing around the downtown.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    Yes, it’s a wide road but not that similar to many current wide Blvds like Queens Blvd in Queens, NY.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queens_Boulevard

    Also not too much wider than the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    I don’t know the area, but one has to look at this as an experiment and investment in the lake front.

    When the West Side Highway came down (collapsed) most people thought the city couldn’t get along without it. I’m pretty sure the small number of lights at the major streets were seen as a big pain.

    The long term positive effects took a good number of years as developers, residents and businesses grasped the potential.

    West Street is in most places narrower than this.

  • anon

    Angie, I’m sorry to hear about your excperience at the underpass. Safety is a concern and overpasses may be preferable for visibility.

    Stairs won’t be installed going forward because of ADA. There will be snow on the ramps, but there is snow on the sidewalks and paths too. Either we have the money to clear it or we don’t. Chicago plows and salts their overpasses.

    A multipurpose bridge from the east bank to wendy park would be an ex
    c

  • anon

    I was saying… A bridge from dwntn to wendy park would habve huge returns because people from edgewater, lakewood and beyond could commute on bikes without the stop and go on narrow detroit. Also, one of the biggest drawbacks to living downtown is no park large enough to jog without doing laps. A bridge opens up several miles of trails. Although the road from wendy to edgewater is not jogger friendly.

  • http://www.roadsideonline.com Randy Garbin

    Boston’s Storrow Drive is essentially a parkway with no lights, turnoffs, etc., and yet the banks of the Charles are always filled with people. Sure, it might be nice to slow down the traffic (See “Make Way for Ducklings”), but they’ve mitigated the issue pretty well. If Cleveland uses Boston as a model, they just might pull it off.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    My guess in the case of Boston is there was already enough density and development nearby.

    In the case of West Street in NYC, there was a huge pent up demand to have anykind of waterfront park and bikeway and lots of people living nearby in Battery Park City, The West Village and only a block away in Chelsea. (When the highway first came down, there was no residential or office dev on the far west block/blocks in Clelsea, which were zoned for cabs, truck terminals and warehouses.

    With Cleveland at least in the downtown, there is I think no critical mass of nearby residents. Slowing the traffic and putting in a few lights would likely be of huge symbolic value.

  • Shaheen

    On the bright side, I think the bike/pedestrian path will be great! Yeah, there are already paths through the park, but I’m assuming this one will be move level and practical for commuting. It would be a lot nicer than riding down detroit ave, assuming it’s far enough away from the fast traffic.

    Also, I think if the tunnels are improved enough more people will start using them. And that would improve safety quite a lot. Already, the one renovated tunnel (around W67th)gets wayyy more foot traffic than the other scary ones.

    However, I agree that a couple lights and crosswalks would be even better. I will write on my block club google group about this! Maybe we can catch Jay Westbrook’s ear at least :)

  • http://www.redbubble.com/people/mclementreilly/portfolio/cleveland+art Michael

    The biggest problem with Cleveland is, the people that work in Cleveland do not live in Cleveland.
    @anon there is plenty of room to jog downtown, you just have to know the paths of least resistence. You do not need a park to jog, and foot traffic in Downtown is generally light. Besides they are abourt a year or 2 from connecting Wendy park to the trail through the flats, then you willl be able to jog from Wendy park to Brecksville & the cuyahoga Valley National Park almost unimpeded.

  • anon

    Where are they crossing the river and railroad tracks? If you’re in the parking lot of shooter’s, you could shout to someone in wendy park, but you have to drive four miles to go meet them.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    “The biggest problem with Cleveland is, the people that work in Cleveland do not live in Cleveland.”

    Um, yes and I think that’s a central problem people have talked about on here.From what I can tell, this has very much been the result of a series of city policies that make it very easy/cheap to commute into town while making it relatively difficult, inconvenient and unpleasant to live in town. It’s not just one thing that kills a city but a pile up of small things–lots of ultra long super blocks that are boring to walk down. Massive single uses of land-so it’s hard to find or stores and places to buy food. Massive parking lots, removed sidewalks and walls and gaps where pedestrians feel unsafe.

    Here’s a post I did on my blog on this subject years ago.

    Some Tips On How to Destroy A City

    One bunch of people who are likely to want to come to Pittsburgh are urban planners. This isn’t a complement; Pittsburgh is almost a lab experiment in poor government and bad urban design and It’s kind of famous for it. So,it may be that people may want some tips on how too screw up their towns too. These tips are most useful if you are looking to screw up a city with a small land area (by which I mean -in the city limits) and are great for places with lots of hills, rivers or other barriers.

    Here are just a few. I will come back with more.It’s a two part strategy to destroy the value of urban land; quality of life and tax base while at the same time making it easy and cheap live outside the city.It’s proven and has worked great here.

    Tear holes in your city and stick in as many highways as you can. Highways that will divide and cut through existing business districts are the best. You must have major highways cutting into your downtown!! Remember, you don’t want people to live in the city especially wealthy people.

    Raise Taxes in the city to pay for it and your other plans. Well, just raise taxes for any reason really.

    Cut and remove as much mass transit as you can. Transit is needed to have a dense city and you don’t want that.

    Add as much parking as you can. You can build huge garages to help waste tax money but you mainly need huge areas of plain old surface lots.

    Put huge Sports Stadiums in or near the key areas of the city. Since they are usually empty, they are are like putting extra fancy holes in the town. they waste lots of tax money and best of all they need tons of parking!!! (remember you don’t have mass transit.)The key is to put these holes in or just near the downtown and make sure that a sea of parking lots sit on the most useful city land.

    Try to remove as many mixed uses of land as you can. Say that offices should not be near homes or stores etc… This requires more driving, more and wider highways and more and more parking holes in the city. It also will likely cause lots of traffic and pollution which will chase people out of town. Remember to raise taxes or borrow to pay for the roads.

    Use all kinds of anti walking policies. Shoppers usually walk and you don’t want that. Get rid of sidewalks and use highways with walls to cut up areas.

    Basically, It’s a progressive strategy. You set in motion a chain reaction that requires more and more of the same–more holes and lower densities require more driving and more holes in the city and so on. For example, chances are that your downtown retail will start to die off– so you say you need to add more parking or perhaps pay the retailers to stay. Some people might start to feel bad about their town as you destroy it (by now your suicide rate might be up) so they need cheering up with some other new stadium.

    You can do it to!!!

  • schmange

    Yo. I live in Cleveland. I want to walk to the lake. Don’t I count?

    What do you mean people don’t live in Cleveland? It’s the most populous city in the region. Sheesh, I guess poor people and minorities don’t count. They certainly don’t seem to be a priority for ODOT.

  • schmange
  • Paul

    Highways have been killing cities ever since the Eisenhower admin. Look how they’ve torn up areas in Cleveland: bisecting Temont, Collinwood, Detroit-Shoreway, Slavic Village. It’s federally subsidized in more than one way. Our government funds highways and does whatever it can to make oil affordable.

    Suburbanites need to pay more for what they’re receiving. We need to turn much of the freeways into toll roads, particularly in the urban areas. We need to tax gasoline and use some of the proceeds to revserse the highway trend. We need to raise taxes on suburban development, both commercial and residential real estate. Its really just a matter of time that this happens since the current trend is simply unsustainable. Look at cities like Portland, OR that have started down this path.

    Cleveland needs to build upon its existing infrastructure to regain its density. Building upon its rapid transit system, building more parks and bike paths, developing attractive urban spaces. Some of this is happening already.

    Tear down the West Shoreway and replace it with a boulevard and a bus lane or trolley. Similar to Euclid Ave.

  • Michael

    Angie, I said work in Cleveland. almost 3 times more people drive into cleveland to work than work & live in cleveland. ( Thank you for inferring i was racist “I guess poor people and minorities don’t count.” much appreciated) coming from Cleveland heights i was brought up better than that. Having a slew of cousins teaching & living in the Collinwood School districts, i have a fair idea of the coming and going of people.
    Alot of my mother’s cousins still live in their neighborhood houses they grew up in.
    the bridge they are planning to use for the path is the one that lights up Rainbow colored at night it is a lift bridge over the inlet on the cuyahoga and the path will go through the west sides of the flat.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    “Cleveland needs to build upon its existing infrastructure to regain its density. Building upon its rapid transit system, building more parks and bike paths, developing attractive urban spaces. Some of this is happening already.”

    This is the new battlefield which likely will be fought in courts for the next few years. The increasingly new trend (actually not new but now more obvious) is not only for state governements and DOT’s dominated by suburban interests to take control of internal city issues.

    We are seeing this in NYC, where any effort by Bloomberg to either toll the 59th st bridge or impliment congestion pricing is obstructed at the state level.

    It’s one thing for the governement to loot and shortchange urban taxpayers and quite another to take over internal planning issues like parking, congestion pricing, speed limits or road and bike lane design.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    Michael said.

    “Angie, I said work in Cleveland. almost 3 times more people drive into cleveland to work than work & live in cleveland. ( Thank you for inferring i was racist “I guess poor people and minorities don’t count.””

    Your remarks, Michael do seem condescending and insulting to Cleveland city residents.

    “There is plenty of room to jog downtown, you just have to know the paths of least resistence. You do not need a park to jog, and foot traffic in Downtown is generally light. Besides they are abourt a year or 2 from connecting Wendy park to the trail through the flats, then you willl be able to jog from Wendy park to Brecksville & the Cuyahoga Valley National Park almost unimpeded.”

    It’s the joggers fault if they would rather jog in a park, right? They should be satisfied with what they have. BTW, I actually live in Pittsburgh so only have a hint of the specifics here.

    My guess is if it’s like Pittsburgh, the relative lack foot traffic downtown is exactly why it might not be a good/safe place to jog. Our Strip district lacks many residents and is used by drivers to speed through the area. Joggers, pedestrians and cyclists are at great risk.

  • schmange

    Hey, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to insult. The fact remains that 300K people live in Cleveland. Less than 100k work downtown. Why are the people that live in the city an afterthought?

  • Michael

    Angie i went out to near west side and near east side and did a comparison usingthe Cuyahoga as a dividing line.
    biggest differences More parks & marinas east, more industry west. and West side tunnels east side overpasses.
    I don’t know why they even have those tunnels. you are uphill enough that an overpass would almost have no rise on the southResidential side) and could easily do Graduated ramps on the North.
    I found the lack of steps down to the ramps on the south puzzling. I should say it looks like an 18 – 20 foot drop down to the tunnels on the south. made no sense to me. The tunnels looked tight and unaccomodating to 2-way trafffic.
    As for jogging & safety i will say this if there is noone there to harm me, where is the danger? I was talking about navigating streets and intersection where traffic is light. I personally have spent many a night downtown with my camera and tripod and have had no problems what so ever. So I think the Stigma of danger is overstated. I will be condescending in this note: I would think when planning a move, lifestyle would be taken into account. There are plenty of parks to jog and bike in, that does not stop me from almost hitting one every time i drive because they feel the need to jog or bike 3-4 across in the street.

  • schmange

    Hey Michael, thanks for commenting and your observations. I don’t want to start a big grudge match here.

    But as a single woman living in Cleveland, I think I have a pretty balanced view of the safety issues. I will tell you, those tunnels make people like me pretty vulnerable at night. I love my neighborhood and have not had any problems but people are held up sometimes at night — and not in crowded well lit places.

    Your point is well taken. People will make decisions about where to live based on livability. That is why it is so important that this highway come down. Detroit Shoreway and Ohio City are very important growing neighborhoods in Cleveland — a city with few other bright points at this time. We need to make regional policy changes if we don’t want the city to lose another 17 percent of its population in the next decade. But ODOT it’s 1986 all over again.

  • http://mclementreilly.redbubble.com/sets/107034/works Michael

    I think everyone misses my point on the shoreway
    1- I agree the tunnels are horrible.
    2- When you get to the other side especially on the west side, what’s over there?
    it is not like chicago where it is beach park condo repeat, it is an industrial area especially on the west side
    & downtown. There are train yards Salt mines waste treatment facilties an airport and the Port of
    Cleveland. All this built on landfill.
    3 – you Drive east it is Same Airport, Technical School Condos Electric plant marina Park Dyke 14 Park Naval Base, bratnahl(New millionaires row till someone tore down half the manions and built condos) homes w/private beaches
    Personally I don’t think the shoreway needs to go, except for Edgewater & Wendy Park, there is nothing over there. I would like to see overpasses and maybe some money put into Cleaning the beach and rebuilding the fishing piers, maybe expand one of those tunnels and add more road access to the East side of the park.
    In a perfect Cleveland, the East european neighborhoods of the Early 20th century still flourish Like little Italy
    and the trolley system would still take you from downtown to Edgewater in the West, Euclid Beach in the east and Puritas Park or luna Beach to the South. But we don’t so fix up Edgewater and make it a place all Clevelanders can go to Especially the peopple who have homes that overlook it.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    Sounds to me like a Jane’s walk might be in order that explores the waterfront-connections/barriers and impact.

    http://janeswalkusa.wordpress.com/

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    Sorry to put you on the spot, Angie–but a post about the Jane’s Walks early on here and on Streetsblog might help build momentum.

    As a whole, regional cities hosted few walks last year and they seem like a great way to raise these issues on a practical neighborhood level.

    Not too many people read my blog.

  • Kevin

    It’s entirely a matter of perspective, Michael. Should the Shoreway remain as-is because “there is nothing over there”, or is the lack of investment due to the presence of the Shoreway? Infrastructure drives investment, and poorly-conceived infrastructure can isolate areas or encourage undesirable development patterns.

  • http://mclementreilly.redbubble.com/sets/107034/works Michael

    Kevin, there is investment there, there is investment in a sewage treatment plant, there is investment in a salt mine that mine salt from under lake erie, there is light investment in 2 parks, there is investment in the Port of Cleveland( which if the Port Authority has its way will move East Taking away 2 parks and a very active marina, leaving the land there for corporate development)

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    Still not sure how this changes Kevin’s point.

    If every city waited to have perfect park and recreational development before tearing down highways and providing access nothing would be done.

    Even after years much of Manhattan’s West Side park is very much a work in progress–in many places being little more than a strip of pavement by some closed off piers.

    Tear down the road and provide access–little, by little making improvements over time.

  • http://mclementreilly.redbubble.com/sets/107034/works Michael

    The point is, there is no point in tearing out the Shoreway that ends shortly after the entrance to the park and all land on the lakeside is developed industrial except the 2 parks. They should develop a system of overpasses instead of tunnels and or use one or more of the tunnels for automobile access to the park.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    I actually don’t know the area. As far as I know, there will be immediate cost savings from just not having to maintain the elevated road.

    Also–even if it is used for industrial uses, there may be a chance for at least having walking paths and a bikeway.

    As I said, NYC, certainly had some access available even during times when the waterfront was pretty dicey/industrial/brownfield

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    I just want to make one further comment about the advantages of gradual vs. sudden development.

    The NYC–particularly the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront faced many serious problems from having a sudden change in zoning and building. Basically, for 40 years, the waterfront was zoned pretty strictly for only industrial use–even though actual demand for this had dropped. (Give or take a few spots near Brooklyn Heights or a restaurant or two in Queens)

    During this time, there were all kinds of really nasty things on the waterfront like huge waste transfer stations and very little was done in the way of paths or parks.

    Every knowledgable real estate developer saw the potential. BAM, Bloomberg opened up the zoning for residential and a huge rush of what now seem like shoddily constructed buildings went up at once in a developer orgy. (Partly prompted by fears the rules would be changed back)

    It would have likely been much better if land uses and rules had been left more open and construction and change had happened gradually.

  • http://clevelandwaterfrontcoalition.org John Veres

    Much has been made of the Shoreway project. Go to our website and
    read our wish list. We are much more concerned with a connected
    park system on the lakefront than more access from these West Side
    neighborhoods (I live in Ohio City). Could discuss “bang for the
    buck” but I’ll leave it there unless you want to discuss the situation
    further.

  • http://diggingpitt.blogspot.com/ John Morris

    @John Vernes,

    I live in Pittsburgh, but from a distance don’t get your logic.

    Your wishlist includes a lot of different things that can’t happen all at once very easily. Isn’t making getting to the waterfront a big part of getting more people interested and advocating for these improvements?

    Let people in (closing off only the most dangerous sites) and just see what happens. Even providing the most basic paths may let people see what they were missing. This is what happened in NYC, where most people just didn’t have any idea how great these places were.

  • Michael

    Here’s a wild idea, and i think totally doable.
    Take the money being used to redesign public Square and use it to Extend Edgewater Park over the Shoreway, leaving it intack in a tunnel underneath, thus you have everything, increased park space, increased park access, bike/walking access Safer access, and near west side suburbs like lakewood still have uninterrupted traffic flow underneath.
    @ John Veres _ In moving the Bike trail on the east side to the South marginal do you not for the future create the same problem as these folks on the west side are experiencing now? Would it not be better to encroach on Burke airport & the exisitng parking lots for Space on the North marginal?

  • schmange

    OR, we could just put in intersections and make the suburban commuters take an extra minute out of their lives. Which is what this project was for and why we’re spending millions of taxpayer dollars on it.

  • Michael

    Really? you would rather have just intersections(and sidewalks, a tree lined meridian in the center, traffic confined to one, sometimes 2 lanes, new sewer lines, Bike paths, and construction for 3 years) instead of a bigger better park?

  • schmange

    The park is plenty big and fine as it is. It’s just not very accessible and well integrated with the city.