Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tear Down this ... Wall

The front page on the local newspaper's website* discusses the urban renewal plan to tear down the section of Interstate 10 through New Orleans that is elevated above N. Claiborne Avenue. They want to tear it down from Elysian Fields in the east to the Pontchartrain Expressway in the west, and restore N. Claiborne Avenue to an oak-lined boulevard, possibly with streetcars.

I think this would be a welcome change, as the current atmosphere under the I-10 elevation is one of the most blighted and non-commercial neighborhoods in the city, despite the fact that it should be the major east west corridor through the city.

Though it seems counterintuitive, these types of projects have met with success in other cities.

This kind of stuff is what I think about while driving around the city (I do my honest best never to take the interstate from one side of the city to another), and this idea has been banged around the blogosphere and at the bars in the past.

So I came up with a quick list of common sense things that would/have to change should New Orleans remove its I-10 over North Claiborne Avenue. At least, these are what I think are common sense things. Then I put them on a map. You can check them out below.

View New Orleans Interstates in a larger map

* (I'm going to try not to send any traffic to the local paper's website until they get some sort of handle on all the racist comments that follow every single article online.)



alli said...

Great post!!!

The intersections you identified along the Claiborne corridor that will be keys to redevelopment (Lafitte, Esplanade, etc) should be zoned properly for Transit Oriented Development - higher densities with ground floor retail and no setbacks.

Also, the best way to ensure that there's adequate parking in the CBD is to make it more expensive, not cheaper. See Shoup, The High Cost of Free Parking, ex. here. I can tell that Jane Jacobs is getting in your head!

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...


Luckily, with the exception of the Esplanade + Claiborne intersection, most of these intersections already have a foundational set up for higher densities, frontage and ground floor retail.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

A few thoughts on the parking issue in the American Sector: for me it isn't an issue of availability.

Most of the parking is managed by one private company to fleece commuters who pile into blighted parking lot craters in the urban landscape. They charge more than the parking is worth, make little effort to invest their assets to make the area more valuable/livable/walkable (this isn't a hard thing to do), and contribute to political corruption to keep it that way.

Every time I go there, I get parking easily and cheaply. The victims aren't the optional drivers, they are the area's economic engine.

High cost of parking adds cost and stress to businesses in the CBD, and provide a disincentive for business to locate there, artificially lowering the density.

IMHO, the current parking monopoly in the CBD is actually hindering economic investment and urban goals for higher density developments.

jeffrey said...

I don't have a problem parking in the CBD. I just use the deferred payment plan. I park anywhere I want and then a nice lady leaves a bill on my windshield (although sometimes she doesn't). I then mail my payment to the city by personal check (although sometimes I don't)

alli said...

Oh, it's not that I don't think parking is an issue - the wasteland of lots along Loyola/Rampart is a big reason why I felt so isolated from the rest of downtown on Howard Ave even though it was a pretty short walk to Perdido/Poydras. And you're absolutely right about how it's a corruption issue. It's the kind of thing that can be fixed with very strong zoning, master planning, and development districts with oversight!

mominem said...

You realize the city zoning ordinance in the 80's when many new buildings were built actually limited parking in the CBD, In many CBD zones there was a maximum parking permitted. It was a planners scheme to limit cars, Planners hate cars. What it has done is limit development, raise costs and send jobs to the suburbs and Houston. It actually costs more to rent parking space than office space in some buildings.

Nancy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Yeah, you right.

This city has got to start removing the artificial barriers on economic development and investment. It is a shame that even in the economic center of the city, we can't employ strategies that increase parking, density and walkability.