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krazeeboi

Lack of downtown interstates in our cities

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This thread was inspired by another thread on another forum that discussed whether cities have yet healed from the effects that downtown interstates have had on the urban fabric of those cities.

Our cities are very fortunate not to have to deal with this problem, but at the same time, what can we show for it? Aside Charleston, has this contributed to a certain maturation in the urban cores of our cities, particularly Columbia and Greenville? Many cities that are still recovering from the effects of downtown interstates, while having a disjointed urban fabric, are yet showing signs of economic and urban vibrance--why isn't that the case in SC, to the extent that it is happening in many other cities? The total razing of marginalized communities in the name of "urban renewal" is definitely one of the greatest benefits, but aside from that, how else have we benefited?

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I think probably since that SC is predominately a rural state that the DOT always felt that limited access freeways should bypass/come near cities that highways like these stated below should be built to connect the downtown areas like:

Business 20 in Florence

I-126 and SC 277 in Columbia

I-185 and I-385 in Greenville

I-585 in Spartanburg

SC 30 (future I-526) and Business 526 in the Chas Area

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I believe that hurts s.c. cities in some ways. Almost every city on the east coast with highways running threw their downtown have benefitted dramatically. None of s.c. cities have this. Char,Atl,Richmond,D.C.,NY etc. Especially from I-85. Greenville would have benefitted from this if I-85 ran nearby or threw there downtown. It lets drivers know that a vibrant city exist. I would never know what Richmond or D.c./Balti looks like if there cities wasn't align with I-95. I know a lot of s.c. people oppose highways threw downtown. But if we were to have a highway threw downtown, I wish it were I-77. Just think of how many people travel I-85 daily.That's a lot of exposure for a city. Skylines leave a impression on how big a city is. Oh well too bad for s.c.

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That's a lot of exposure for a city. Skylines leave a impression on how big a city is. Oh well too bad for s.c.

We'll just have to make our cities really big and tall!! That way people can see them from the interstate.

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I think it has benefited our cities in that older neighborhoods were not as substantially destroyed in South Carolina as they were in many other areas. I don't blame the lack of rapid growth and economic improvement on where the interstates are located, I blame it on the perpetually pathetic legislature South Carolinians keep electing. Cases in point: Terrible annexation laws, lack of consistent school funding for rural and poor districts, minibottles until 2006, regressive taxation system, etc.

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Actually we have had a discussion in the Charlotte forum about how much I-77 helped to destroy the fabric of downtown Charlotte. (and 277 that connects to it) Square miles of housing was destroyed, and the CBD was separated from a number of neighborhoods.

It's I-85 which really benefited Charlotte's economy and it doesn't go downtown.

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As other forumers have stated, SC is blessed not to have them. Urban Renewal back in the 70's helped pave through alot of downtowns. Highways, and malls were built over old neighboorhoods and the "white flight" problem was also in effect. Now developers like people to see there towers, so yea interstate visability might bring in some height but overall the negative are more than positives. Plus what are you complaining for? SC big 3 all have poping downtowns and G-ville is named one of the best in the south. Most SC cities have feeder highways which helps funnel people into town but still doesn't ruin the fabric of the city. Now as far as the 85 statement, you have to put that in account as the G-ville area has blossmed from that. Many cities are just now recovering from those mistakes back then and SC cities should be happy they don't have too much to worry in that. I mean look at Boston.....

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I'm in the minority here I actually prefer a major highway running adjacent to downtown.

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I'm in the minority here I actually prefer a major highway running adjacent to downtown.

I agree with you. This is only my opinion.It just seems like better access to the city.

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I believe that hurts s.c. cities in some ways. Almost every city on the east coast with highways running threw their downtown have benefitted dramatically. None of s.c. cities have this. Char,Atl,Richmond,D.C.,NY etc. Especially from I-85. Greenville would have benefitted from this if I-85 ran nearby or threw there downtown. It lets drivers know that a vibrant city exist. I would never know what Richmond or D.c./Balti looks like if there cities wasn't align with I-95. I know a lot of s.c. people oppose highways threw downtown. But if we were to have a highway threw downtown, I wish it were I-77. Just think of how many people travel I-85 daily.That's a lot of exposure for a city. Skylines leave a impression on how big a city is. Oh well too bad for s.c.

No interstates run through downtown DC. There are spurs ,395 and 295 I think, but 95 runs out through Maryland.

While it does make for pretty scenery as you drive by, in general interstates through the CDB are a bad for both the interstate and the city. The destruction/ dissection of intown neighborhoods has already been raised as a detrimental effect. Also, interstates are supposed to moved traffic through an area. Getting clogged in local commuter traffic is counterproductive in this regard. Well planned and executed spurs, I believe accomplish the goal of providing access in a much better fashion.

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I always thought it would've been cool if I-26 ran closer to the Congaree River (maybe a 1/2 to a full mile from it) through Cayce and West Columbia. Then you'd have skyline exposure without the drastic effect of devastating the City of Columbia.

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That's somewhat how I-77 relates to Charlotte; it runs close to uptown, but not through it.

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I always thought it would've been cool if I-26 ran closer to the Congaree River (maybe a 1/2 to a full mile from it) through Cayce and West Columbia. Then you'd have skyline exposure without the drastic effect of devastating the City of Columbia.

The original plabns for 126 called for it to run down Huger St, and connect back to the interstate. An urban loop much like I-277 in Charlotte was also in the works. I twoudl have gutted large portions of Columbia including Elmwood Park, Wales Garden, 5 points, parts of Shandon, etc. I am extremely glad that this did not happen. Columbia would not be the same.

The only pro would be greater skyline visibility, but who cares about that. I think SC's interstate system is fantastic, and out cities benefit greatly from them.

Interstates were originally supposed to run in the countryside with spurs into the cities, like all of SC's major cities have.

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No interstates run through downtown DC. There are spurs ,395 and 295 I think, but 95 runs out through Maryland.

While it does make for pretty scenery as you drive by, in general interstates through the CDB are a bad for both the interstate and the city. The destruction/ dissection of intown neighborhoods has already been raised as a detrimental effect. Also, interstates are supposed to moved traffic through an area. Getting clogged in local commuter traffic is counterproductive in this regard. Well planned and executed spurs, I believe accomplish the goal of providing access in a much better fashion.

This was a product of the 60s/70s freeway revolts - DC, Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, Manhattan/Brooklyn/Queens were all initially to be far more extensively sliced up by various interstate spurs and loops.

That came to a swift end - first in NY. After 95 was blasted through the Bronx, and South Bronx was relative isolated from the rest of the borough, and a swift decline set in, plans to build I-495 across midtown and 78 through SoHo (both on elevated freeways between the tunnels) into Brooklyn, which would be bisected NW-SE by I-78, to Kennedy Arpt. were cancelled by mass NYC neigborhood uproar. The many x78 and x95 spurs in NYC that don't connect to the parent interstate are the legacy of that; other planned spurs (I-878 into Long Island and a northern turn of 78 back into Queens) were killed before any ROW was purchased.

Various spurs of I-80 were to make a double loop, using cut-and-cover tunnels and stacked freeways therogh San Francisco city wide; including a stacked freeway that would run in front of the skyline, across the waterfront to connect the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges. A northern extension of I-280 would have followed CA 1 through western San Francisco, including a partially tunnelled interchange with the I-80 (the planned western endpoint of 80) under Golden Gate Park. Those plans were the next to be overturned, intitally due to neighborhood uproar and the ghastly ugliness of the short section that did get built (the ultimately abandoned I-480, demoted to CA480); those short stretches were dismantled after the Loma Prieta quake.

In the early 70s, the plans for I-95 to go through DC, with I-66 intesecting, again using a series of tunnels (tear down everything above, dig an open tunnel, construct the road, then cover the tunnel, which would again include a partially tunnelled interchange), adjoined by extensions of I-295 and I-695, and an I-266 loop that would run through Georgetown (!!!) were then cancelled due to mass uproar; ditto for plans for 95 to run SW-NE through South Boston, then downtown, before passing just south of Walden Pond. The Boston sections of 95 that were constructed downtown beacem part of I-93, and ended up turning into the infamous Big Dig repair/improvement project.

Plans for two center city loops (I-420 [from the end of Lakewood Fwy, through Lakewood, to I-20 just S of Deactur] and I-485 [running E from near the King Ctr to an intesection with a Western extension of Stone Mtn Frwy in Little 5 Points, then turning N bakc to 85 at the DeKalb/Fulton Co line]) were killed in Atlanta at about the same time; ditto for I-695 in Philly (part of a cancelled citywide grid of freeways) and I-494 in Chicago, which would've run down the lakefront from downtown to Gary.

Another plan that hung around until the 90s was I-70 through western Baltimore, a proposal dating to the 50s (complete with stubs of a ghost interchange on I-95 at the southwest Baltimore city limits) that wasn't killed until the mid-90s; it too would've run through several miles of older neighborhoods and the Gwynns Falls Park.

SC should be thankful they didn't blast these roads through the heart of town. 77 held a long standing record in Charlotte for its' expensiveness, and old 40 through Winston became obsolete, and was built on such narrow ROW and steep terrain as to render improvements and widening nearly impossible - it's now Business 40. I seriously doubt we'll see any additional inner city interstates getting built - they are outrageously expensive to build, difficult to improve, and the neighborhood effects are literally catastrophic.

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^Thanks for the great history lesson. I had never heard about most of these abandoned highway projects.

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When you're on I-77 Terminus going north, the city's skyline looks pretty good off to the left. It would have been better if it were much closer, but Columbia's interstate system is designed like a business loop. I-20 runs north of the city, I-26 runs west of the city, and I-77 runs south/east. SC 277 and I-126 should have been connected, but we all have our opinions about that.

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SC 277 and I-126 definitely should not have been connected. That would have demolished two of Columbia's most historical neighborhoods, Cottontown and Elmwood Park (which was a historically Black neighborhood). Thank God they didn't get connected.

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If 277 and 126 ran together my family wouldn't be living in this wonderful house in Elmwood Park! lol

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Columbia should be happy it has 3 interstates that circumvent the city. Not many cities can say that.

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^Very true. Plus it eliminates the need to create an outer loop in the future. SCDOT was visionary in this regard.

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^Thanks for the great history lesson. I had never heard about most of these abandoned highway projects.

Thanks - glad ya liked. I remember growing up in the 70s/80s, and taking family road trips, and seeing 'proposed' interstates in the Rand McNally atlases that were never built...

Virtually none in the Carolinas, though a look at early plans for the interstate highway system in the Carolinas is interesting.

The first 1930s and 40s envisionings of the interstates include I-85, 95 and 40 pretty much on their current routes in NC and SC; though 40 was to end in Greensboro NC. A 95 spur would've run into Charleston, along the current St. George-Charleston stretch of I-26.

The draft proposals expanded a bit by the late 1940s to extend I-20 from Atlanta east to Florence, and to include I-26, on its' current alignment from Asheville to Charleston.

I-77 had a stranger evolution; the last modified/expanded interstate proposal (before final approval) in the mid 1950s numbered the Detroit-Port Huron MI stretch of I-94 as I-77, and there were no plans for a Cleveland-Charleston N-S interstate.

Around 1956 a N-S I-77 between Cleveland and Charleston WV became a last-minute addition to the plan, and all the proposed Michigan interstates were renumbered. The 77 proposal was extended south on the WV Tpk to Wytheville, VA, and by 1959 to Charlotte. By the late 1960s the 77 proposal had expanded south to it's final endpoint on I-26 in Columbia.

The mid 60s also saw the eastward extensions of I-40 in NC, with many different proposed routes through the NC Triangle, with an endpoint on I-95 near Smithfield.

A 1969 plan to further expand the interstate system generated no new proposals in SC, but 3 in NC - a never-numbered interstate along US 74 (Hendersonville-Gastonia-Charlotte-Lumberton-Wilmington), and a second unnumbered interstate along US 421 (Greensboro-Fayetteville-Wilmington), with a long spur to Jacksonville NC off the latter. Those plans failed when the 70s energy crisis hit; a decision to build one interstate to Wilmington was made, and voters in Wilmington favored a connection to Raleigh over Charlotte, and the never-settled eastern alignment of I-40 was curved sharply southward, and eventually (15 years later) constructed on this alignment.

A plan to extend I-20 from Florence to Myrtle Beach briefly surfaced, and quickly died, in the mid 1980s.

The idea for an Asheville to Kingsport TN extension of I-26 came also came about in the late 1980s.

And finally, the plans for I-73 and I-74 in NC and SC date to the early 1990s. Both proposals were heavily tweaked at the behest of various elected officials, hence the illogical directional shifts, u-turns and parallel stretches in those proposals. Plans for both north and west of NC seem stalled at the moment.

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More good info. I will be interesting to see how I-73 and I-74 turn out in the near future.

I wonder if I-126 through Columbia was designed to go further than it does.

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More good info. I will be interesting to see how I-73 and I-74 turn out in the near future.

I wonder if I-126 through Columbia was designed to go further than it does.

Basicly, yes. Back in 1968 the Doxiadis company came up with a master plan for the year 2000 for Columbia. They looked at many factors, and it was determined that the best way to save center city Columbia was to build an interstate system to allow for easier access to downtown. They also called for high density housing along the river, west of Huger (which would be a large interstate). The Doxiadis plan came up with an inner loop to compliment the planned outer loop. They recognized that the State House, USC, and the City and County offices along N Main created a spine of activity, and they invisioned that spine being enhanced, with the areas aoutside of that being residential areas. I-126 was actually the first leg of this interstate system. 277 was also a part of the system, though it terminated at Bull St instead of linking up with 126 at Huger & Elmwood as originally planned.

Fortunately for Columbia, the proposed interstate system was never constructed. Can you image Columbia today if that had happened? It would look more like Charlotte in some sense, but probably with a Knoxville flavor.

Here is a basic map that gets the idea of where these interstates woudl have gone accross. I don't have exact locations though. Note that Forest Dr and Garners ferry Rd would have been converted to be a aprt of the interstate system. This system woudl ahve provided access to all corners of the city (Doxiadis invisioned Blossom and Gervais providing access to the west as they do today (Klapman wasn't in existance yet).

doxiadis.jpg

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Wow. Thanks for that info, Spartan. I guess lack of funding was certainly a blessing in disguise here. To have so many valuable areas of the city destroyed for a freeway would have been an abomination, but one that was yet committed in many cities across the nation.

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