Thursday, June 7, 2012

What's next for new greenway? Consider this ...

I popped in Tuesday to the public workshop on possible changes to the Interstate 77-Interstate 277 uptown freeway loop. (See "Changes ahead for uptown Charlotte freeway.")  As I looked over the maps and nosily read other folks comments on various sticky notes, I spotted this scrawled on a large flip chart set up for written comments:

PLEASE put greenway connecting under Independence to connect new CPCC expansion w/Cordelia Park.
 
A few feet away, I spotted Gwen Cook, the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department's greenway planner. I asked if that was her suggestion, I asked. She chuckled and confessed..

The issue is a thorny one. You can walk on the greenway all the way from behind Park Road Shopping Center through Freedom Park, past Central Piedmont Community College and up to East Seventh Street. There, the greenway is halted by a tangle of freeway ramps going under-over-around-and-through, as I-277 meets with U.S. 74 (Independence Boulevard), forcing both Seventh Street and Central Avenue onto bridges over the freeway traffic. From the Seventh Street bridge you can see Little Sugar Creek far below, except where its been forced into culverts.

But as the crow flies its just a few hundred yards (well, maybe a little more) to where the greenway picks up again at 12th Street and heads north to Cordelia Park at North Davidson Street and Parkwood Avenue. (Here's a link to the park departments greenways page, with maps.)

From what Ive been told, theres no official plan at this point for how to connect the segments.  So, I asked Cook, what would you really like to see? Her idea: Build an iconic bridge that would weave over and under the highway ramps and lanes.

I can almost see it now a visually splendid bridge soaring and swooping across the chasm of highway, with bright colors and sharp design. Other cities have found donors or tourism tax dollars to build one-of-a-kind bridges. (Click here to see the Greenville, S.C., pedestrian bridge) Below is the Santiago Calatrava-designed Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay in Redding, Calif., built with help from a local foundation. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

5 comments:

James said...

Greenway over the interstate? Raleigh's been there, done that: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Raleigh,+NC&hl=en&ll=35.805169,-78.693659&spn=0.007935,0.016512&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=62.314887,135.263672&oq=raleigh&t=h&hnear=Raleigh,+Wake,+North+Carolina&z=17&layer=c&cbll=35.805169,-78.693659&panoid=2BA9SNqJMGT1-IwA2QouDQ&cbp=12,346.5,,0,-1.35

Mary Newsom said...

James, indeed, Raleigh's pedestrian overpass is an inspiration, although not a particularly iconic one.

But the number of lanes and ramps at the interchange in uptown Charlotte would make such a bridge here way, way more difficult to design.

Anonymous said...

Did the planners explain why removing the freeway isn't being studied? Talk about an easier design for the greenway.

Not long ago, Mary blogged about the "Ringstrasse" concept.

Mary Newsom said...

Dear Anonymous 3:36 p.m.: What city transportation planners have said is that so much traffic feeds into the I-277 freeway from Independence Boulevard (U.S. 74) and from I-77 that turning it into a high-volume boulevard would be much more difficult than in some other cities, where the freeway that was eliminated didn't carry huge volumes of traffic.

Anonymous said...

I understand there would be traffic traveling between I-77 and Independence Blvd. (US-74), but is it really enough traffic to need TWO freeways?

Sure, Brookshire is more direct, and also connects NC-16, but it's older and will need replaced sooner. Plus, the Belk just had a major re-do of its ramps at Caldwell/South.

So again, why do we need BOTH the Belk AND the Brookshire? Surely, one side of the noose around Uptown could be cut free.

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