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So its been about 10 years since the Blue Line opened and Charlotte has spent a significant amount of energy talking about how to make the city more walkable and less car dependent. As I think about the walkable portions of Charlotte (Dilworth, Southend, PM, Wesley Heights (needs a grocery store), NoDa, etc.) all of these places were built before cars and they have merely been updated to accommodate modern needs.
Try as I might I can't think of a single post-war neighborhood in Charlotte that has been made more walkable. Is there any neighborhood outside of the inner ring where walking to the store, school or transit is possible for more than a token few? The Blue Line created little or no change in the neighborhoods south of New Bern. Birkdale-like places seem much more like malls than neighborhoods to me and feel as isolated as a mall -- but I don't spend much time there so correct me if I am wrong. Brightwalk comes to mind as one of the best examples but AFAIK it lacks retail and is basically cutoff from any other neighborhoods by Statesville Ave and 77. LoSo is another place where people now want to walk, but it lacks the necessary infrastructure (sidewalks and transit access). We have even failed at connecting neighborhoods by means other than the car (e.g. crossing from Dilworth to Southend on bike or foot is still kinda hairy).
So my question is what is missing from the development process? Is it zoning (e.g. lot size, sidewalk width, land use mix)? Transit? Traffic engineering (too many car sewers)? A combination of all or something else entirely?
Ten years of experience suggests that we have not figured out how to make new walkable burbs -- is it time to give up? Would giving up be a bad thing?
EDIT: am I being too pessimistic? Does new multi-family in places like Park Road / Selwyn make new walkability available to some? Please tell me I have overlooked some significant positive change somewhere.
While I really want to discuss the mass transportation needs, wants, and woes in Chattanooga, I would also like to see some life brought to this board, and this includes discussions away from residential development and pictures.
The Multi-modal Transportation Center Study wrapped up its public input this Thursday at the Choo Choo. I was unable to go, but from published photos, you can see one of the sites over at Broad & Main:
Other potential site locations, according to WTVC U.S. Pipe and the Choo Choo. U.S. Pipe certainly has opportunity, but through talking to some I know, not only are the residential plans moving forward off the S. Broad spot, but the Lookouts are unofficially eyeing the area. I like the idea of the center being downtown, but I am privy to it being in midtown, off central somewhere between Bailey and McCallie.
U.S. Pipe plans from the past, now getting renewed attention from Southside rebuild, Cameron Harbor, economy picking up, & Riverwalk extension. Past plans:
Efforts have been underway to increase complete streets in the city. We already have a pretty successful bike share system downtown, but recently bike lanes have been added or improved. Veterans Bridge had the lane solidified to meet up to Barton Ave, N Market was just narrowed to two lanes with bike lanes each direction painted, Broad Street currently is having curbs put up to protect the new lanes, and Cherokee may potentially be getting protected lanes. These efforts are to follow into the city. Hwy 158 has been undergoing sidewalk additions, and East Ridge is currently working on their own street improvements.
Hold onto your seats, ladies and gentlemen, because Chattanooga may have a LR coming soon. Compared to other cities, the cost for the LR - using preexisting rails and creating a few new miles of track - will just be pennies in the bucket. From my understanding, support is being sought before they formally begin the process. The LR could change many things for the city. Most notably, class mobility as transportation has been a huge problem for the inner city community. Though with the cheap land and convenient transportation, we could see a lot more gentri Central -> Missionary Ridge, which would confound the problem.
Side note: Proponents for national rail travel have highlighted Chattanooga as one of the key pieces to the puzzle. The ATL-CHA high-speed rail conversation has gone on for years, most recently being determined not 'feasible,' but the CHA hub is still important. With Chattanooga getting rail, there's a possible extension outside of the city. Cleveland, Collegedale are two locations, but Nashville would be a consideration. Here is the overall map to see how CHA would play a part. MIA -> CHI route
We cannot forget the record growth the CHA airport has been having. Parking is currently under expansion, new routes (direct -> LGA and IAH), cheap fares, and new aviation company planting roots. Great to see the airport better serving the community (and poaching N ATL customers). We would all love parking decks at Lovell Field, but we also all know there isn't near enough a demand for that. Down the road, for sure. Maybe when another terminal opens after we eclipse 400-550k enplanements.
TN legislators are still upset about the FCC knocking down state line restrictions for municipal broadband, but these battles could be over pretty soon. EPB is being a nice service and not expanding out of their 600 sq mile area, even if they lawfully are able to now. Interesting to note, if only economically. Infrastructure is infrastructure, and currently Chattanooga has one of the smartest grids in the world.
I think this just about covers it? Outside of course our electric shuttles downtown, which I hope they eventually expand further as the density increases outside the core of Riverfront-City Center districts. I love Nashville, and though Chattanooga has a long way to go to reach its congestion (though the city is a major US thoroughfare, especially with freight traffic), I am glad to see the city playing the long game by working to deal with traffic issues through multi-modal & complete street initiatives until we have to, like with Nashville. Urban (& smart) planning are always draws to tourists - look to Philadelphia, Boston - so this type of proactive growth can further have impacts on our growing hospitality industry. It already has (think Vanguard) in many different ways, but density and transportation has a way of strengthening a city's growth all its own. What do you think about where the city is going?