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atownrocks

Why do we even have I-277?

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I know that this has been talked about before, but why was the I-277 even built, it makes no sense. Like other of you have said, if we did not have it Charlotte's skyline could be a whole lot bigger.

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well 75 never stopped atlantas skyline. it just means that in charlotte we are gonna have more dense of a CBD, because its all condensed in one small area, plus the skyline is starting to reach outside of 277, with the arlington, 615 east, royal court, midtown redevelopement, the skys the limit my friend, and I'm sure things will spring up in elizabeth, I also wouldn't doubt it if things started creeping down south blvd by 2020

just look at all the surface parking, nothing is keeping dt clt from being larger, only the budget and still look at us getting larger, adding tons of new skyscrapers, plus we aren't completely locked in yet, only two parts of the central core of buildings is even 3 blocks away from 277

but I do agree with the question, whats the deal with 277?

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One idea that was proposed some years ago which would help link the inner & outer portions of I-277, was to cover a long stretch of the recessed area of I-277 (in the area of the trolley overpass) and build a large park over the freeway. Subsequently, this would create a tunnel on I-277. I like tunnels! This is not a unique idea by any means as many large cities have done similar projects over inner city freeways. There were actually artist renderings done for this proposal, but I am sure they have been filed away....in the very back!

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One idea that was proposed some years ago which would help link the inner & outer portions of I-277, was to cover a long stretch of the recessed area of I-277 (in the area of the trolley overpass) and build a large park over the freeway. Subsequently, this would create a tunnel on I-277. I like tunnels! This is not a unique idea by any means as many large cities have done similar projects over inner city freeways. There were actually artist renderings done for this proposal, but I am sure they have been filed away....in the very back!

That still would be one of the best things to happen. I know in Philadelphia I-676 is a perfect example. I-277 does help connect the very busy Independence Blvd (the most busy non interstate road in the NC) to I-77 and Uptown

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I really dislike how lower 277 merges back to 77. Especially the downhill looparound and double merge, going from west 277 to south 77. That thing needs to be a flyover ramp.

I've missed it a few times... and found myself sitting behind other drivers on Wilkinson, who were also trying to U turn and get back to 77.

Ugh.

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When it was proposed it was called the Inner Loop and it followed the mindset of planning that still existed in the 70s that roads should be designed to move vehicles and little else. Never mind how much they may destroy the city in the process.

Later, after it was completed and given the official name of I-277, city planners realized it was one of the worst mistakes in urban planning ever made by the city. The city and state demolished several square miles of urban environment and neighborhoods to build that road and it permanantly cut off the CBD from the rest of the city. It was like building a moat around the city. It was the final nail in the coffin of really bad urban renewal that caused almost everyone to move out of the city.

I don't think the city will ever get the money from the state to cap the John Belk freeway, so it will probably always be the way it is. The state is loathe to spend money like this, especially in Charlotte. Barring this, I think the next best thing the city could do would be to demolish the Brookshire freeway and route the remaining traffic onto the John Belk Freeway. That would allow for a nice expansion to the North and it would integrate First and 4th Wards with the less desirable places on the other side of the highway. Those neighborhoods would certainly benefit and I could see a very nice urbanscape developing up Central around to Tryon. That isn't really possible now.

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Try Houston, Texas. They have a fwy around their downtown.

They have a nice sky line, without these fwys, you would not be able to move in downtown Houston.

Development just went pass the freeways.

I think the same will will happen in Charlotte.

Independence Blvd (US74) would cause many traffic problens with out I-277 to connect to I-277 and NC 16N.

I-77 was built close to uptown which helps move traffic to and out of uptown Charlotte.

I-85 is about 4 miles north of uptown, and with out I-77, uptown Charlote would be like South Park Area but with worse traffic.

So you may not like I-277, but I don't think you would see the development in uptown with out it.

With LRT you will see TOD all around these lines.

South End will be the next area for high rises all the way down to Woodlawn.

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Houston is a horrible example of a liveable city. I hope we don't turn our that way.

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No city will be like Houston because they have no zoning laws.

I don't think many cities in the US will go this insane way of planning a city.

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Houston has had zoning for about the last 20 years. But your point is still taken, that when you let a city grow for a century without zoning, you get-- Houston.

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So 277 was part of the limited access network that Charlotte was pushing for when I-77 was then called the North-South Expressway. Interesting stuff Marc, i did not know any of this about 277.

Check out this page, there are plans to demote the Massachusetts 79 freeway into an urban boulevard in Fall River.

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I think it would have been better if I-277 was never built, however I think what is currently the loop of the Charlotte 4 should have been the real 277 (a la Raleigh's I-440).

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I've written out my opinion in much more detail in past threads, but I am convinced that without the freeway capacity downtown (including 277), inner city employment, residential population, and economic growth would be significantly lower. Any "problems" with 277 can be solved by bridges.

Also, it doesn't really make sense at all to be called 277, I'll grant you guys that, as no one would actually benefit from driving the whole route. Really it is just NC16 and US74. NC16/Brookshire is a vital connection between 85 and Independence. US74 is a vital connection between Wilkinson and Independence. They are really 2 distinct roads that are rarely used in the same trip.

As for mindsets and urban planning mistakes and all that... my opinion is that it doesn't matter. The freeway capacity is what it is, and it is now crucial to bringing people from a number of point A to point B routes.

Urban density relies on infrastructure capacity. Granted, it needs to be designed to allow for urban connectivity (Belk Freeway is bad in this regard, because it has a half-mile section with no crossings). But with enough cross connections, the freeway is no more of a barrier than the creeks that have surrounded downtown for the entirety of Charlotte's existence.

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When it was proposed it was called the Inner Loop and it followed the mindset of planning that still existed in the 70s that roads should be designed to move vehicles and little else. Never mind how much they may destroy the city in the process.

Later, after it was completed and given the official name of I-277, city planners realized it was one of the worst mistakes in urban planning ever made by the city. The city and state demolished several square miles of urban environment and neighborhoods to build that road and it permanantly cut off the CBD from the rest of the city. It was like building a moat around the city. It was the final nail in the coffin of really bad urban renewal that caused almost everyone to move out of the city.

I don't think the city will ever get the money from the state to cap the John Belk freeway, so it will probably always be the way it is. The state is loathe to spend money like this, especially in Charlotte. Barring this, I think the next best thing the city could do would be to demolish the Brookshire freeway and route the remaining traffic onto the John Belk Freeway. That would allow for a nice expansion to the North and it would integrate First and 4th Wards with the less desirable places on the other side of the highway. Those neighborhoods would certainly benefit and I could see a very nice urbanscape developing up Central around to Tryon. That isn't really possible now.

Great post - it came about at the same time (or shortly after) the 'North-South' freeway (pre-I-77) was proposed; some early proposals in the late 50s/early 60s also propsed converting E. Independence into a full freeway at the same time. The awful John Belk-I-77 interchange is a relic of the original proposal; the only of the original interchanges to be built as designed in the early 60s.

The urban renewal plans were awful - the razing of Brooklyn (where J. Belk is now located), 2nd Ward and 1st Ward were real catastrophes - a huge chunk of Charlotte history and culture got bulldozed flat.

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My understanding of Brooklyn was that it was mostly substandard housing, kind of like the mill homes off 12th that were recently demolished.

I bet if Brooklyn still existed, it would be like Belmont or Optimist Park -- a dilapidated area beset with crime, held by lots of absentee landlords that don't give a damn. The city would be eagerly looking for code violations, to use as justifaction to condemn housing there anyway, and have the land converted over to better taxpaying use.

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Having not been around to view the neighborhoods slated as 'urban decay' in Atlanta in the 60's & Charlotte in the 70's - it's hard for me to judge what could have been. There has been enough indication that many of these neighborhoods were in fact difficult to rehabitate slums - full of tenemant houses & shotgun shacks, possibly even more substandard style of housing. But we now know that many of these homes, despite how simple the venacular is can be renovated - & you can wind up with $200k + mill 2 bed mill houses.

But the answer was easier back then before the advent of widespread historical preservation & in a more racially sensitve era. Unfortunately Charlotte followed Atlanta's solution - using freeway's as an excuse to isolate it's commercial & then retail center away from the 'undersirables'.

But it's hard to argue what happened then, before there was an interest in what is now gentrification. Quite possibly if Charlotte hadn't built 277 & wiped out the low income urban neighborhoods, it's downtown might not have become as successful as today / future. Or maybe given time, those neighborhoods could have become highly valued areas to live & could have made downtown even greater. A thought that I often consider about Atlanta's downtown.

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My understanding of Brooklyn was that it was mostly substandard housing, kind of like the mill homes off 12th that were recently demolished.

I bet if Brooklyn still existed, it would be like Belmont or Optimist Park -- a dilapidated area beset with crime, held by lots of absentee landlords that don't give a damn. The city would be eagerly looking for code violations, to use as justifaction to condemn housing there anyway, and have the land converted over to better taxpaying use.

Brooklyn might have looked as Cherry does today, its difficult to say. But it was not the only neighborhood destroyed. When they re-located central avenue so that it didn't go downtown anymore, in the late 70s, they took down multiple dozens of victorian style houses. I remember it from 1975 being quite run down, but that was at the time when you could pickup a rundown house right in Dilworth for less than $10K. I predict it would have been quite nice today if they had not built the John Belk Fwy portion of I-277. All of those homes would have no doubt been restored in the same fashion as those in 4th ward.

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Cherry is one of the ugliest neighborhoods in the inner city. So thinking that Brooklyn looked like Cherry makes me inclined to not mourn its loss.

Also, I'm confused by the reference to Central Avenue relocation. I believe it is runs on the same route it always has. Which spot had the victorian houses?

To me, the razing of Brooklyn was so bad because it was so complete. Not a single structure remains other than the corner of Brevard and 3rd, and the 2nd Ward School Gymnasium. The city should have tried to save the architectural and historical gems, even if the whole neighborhood couldn't remain exactly as it was. I think that if 5 or 10 of the old buildings were retained there, it would have been a wick to regrow the neighborhood.

The freeways were the direct cause for many old buildings to be removed, but clearly that lack of freeways everywhere else in downtown did not cause the other buildings to remain. Outside of Brooklyn, which was razed for complicated reasoning, buildings were razed for economic reasons by their owners. We now have only a couple dozen buildings that remain downtown from before the WWII. I put forth that very few of those buildings would remain by now even if the freeways weren't there.

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Brooklyn already has a incomplete limited access system. Without the existening parkways and expressways, the following would occur:

No direct connection to teh Long Island Expressway from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. This leads teh way to Long Island and allows commericial traffic to get there too. Commericial traffic are banned on parkways. Long Island has about 3 million people east of NYC.

No direct connection to JFK International Airport using the Belt Parkway from teh Verrazano Bridge.

Thru-traffic going between New Jersey and Long Island would be using boulevards such as Linden Blvd and Atlantic & Conduit Avenues. If the Verrazano Bridge (between SI and Bklyn) were never to be built, the Staten Island Ferry approach would be a parking lot with waits being hours and hours long.

It is sad and unfortunate that later on, elevated & ground highways had to rip through neighborhoods but at teh same time, without these limited access highways, teh city could not function from outsider influence. Public transportation alone could not move the city to the pace its at today.

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Brooklyn already has a incomplete limited access system. Without the existening parkways and expressways, the following would occur:

Uhhh..... We are talking about Brooklyn in Charlotte, not NYC. Maybe you didn't realize there used to be one here. LOL.

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Just to catch you up Jerseyman, when people have written "Brooklyn" in this thread and many others in the Charlotte forum, they are referring to the black neighborhood in 2nd Ward in downtown that was completely removed during 1960s urban renewal. Some housing that remained was removed during the construction of John Belk Freeway (i277)

Here are some historical photos of the neighborhood.

http://www.cmstory.org/aaa2/places/main_menu.htm

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Oh wow, im really sorry. I had no idea Brooklyn, Mecklenburg County even existed. My apologies :)

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Also, I'm confused by the reference to Central Avenue relocation. I believe it is runs on the same route it always has. Which spot had the victorian houses?

As one can see in this street map of Charlotte, Central used to go all the way downtown instead of simply disappearing into Kings as it does today. The entire area down there was completely different. Even the topography was different as a lot of earth was moved for the freeways. The map is actually not that detailed as I am pretty sure that Central actually terminated onto Tryon. The Victorian Homes would have been located between Seigle and Davidson streets. There may have been more, but last time I remember going there, in late 1975, it was quite scary so I didn't hang around.

charlotte_65_map.jpg

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Oh, ok. That is just an imprecise map. They chose to show the 10th Street connection on that map, which still exists today.

No doubt "they" (the proverbial Man) has destroyed victorian homes in First Ward and the orphaned section of Elizabeth north of Independence, but not from any relocation of Central Ave. Although before they rebuilt Earle Village/First Ward, I think they had a connector from 10th to 9th as the thorough. Maybe they wiped out some nice old houses when they did that.

Here is the detail from the 1935 Charlotte map showing Central, and 10th in their current locations.

121574620_f83c266125_o.jpg

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