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What do you think North Carolina's larger cities would be like today if they had downtown Freeways?

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What do you think North Carolina's major cities would be like today if the major interstate freeways came through the downtown cores.

Charlotte if both I-77 (does enter downtown), I-85 does not

Greensboro I-85 and I-40 both bypass the center city. Does the new I-85 hurt Greensboro even more due to it being move to become part of the southeastern side of the Greensboro Urban Loop?

Winston-Salem I-40 (the only NC to have a major interstate in the downtown). US 52 north-south freeway. Winston-Salem is the only NC city to have 2 freeways coming into the downtown core.

Has the new I-40 hurt downtown Winston-Salem?

Durham I-85 and I-40 bypass the central city. The Durham Freeway NC 147 does go into the core.

Did the Durham Freeway lack the impact on Durham's core due to it not having an Interstate highway numbering and having taken many years to connect to I-40 on the southern end and on the northern end to I-85?

Fayetteville I-95 bypasses the city on the eastside

I-95 does not enter any North Carolina. Does I-95 not help NC at all due to it not going into any city?

Wilmington I-40 ends before coming near the downtown core zone.

With I-40 not coming into the Wilmington area until the 1980s, did this hurt the growth of Wilmington. Or was this a good thing due to hurricanes most often entering NC at the Wilmington zone?

Asheville I-40 does not enter the downtown core zone.

Burlington I-85/I-40 bypass the downtown core.

Jacksonville, Greenville and Elizabeth City have no Interstate highways

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They'd be even more chopped up and sprawling than they already are. Why on earth would anyone want freeways slicing through their city? Asheville suffered enough from having I-240 cut Montford off from downtown, and one of the city's deadliest neighborhoods, Hillcrest, is deadly solely because it's an island broken away from the rest of the city by the tangle of onramps where I-240 collides with Patton Avenue.

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They'd be even more chopped up and sprawling than they already are. Why on earth would anyone want freeways slicing through their city? Asheville suffered enough from having I-240 cut Montford off from downtown, and one of the city's deadliest neighborhoods, Hillcrest, is deadly solely because it's an island broken away from the rest of the city by the tangle of onramps where I-240 collides with Patton Avenue.

Well, almost every US city that has a huge dense downtown core has an Interstate running into the hearts of them.

The only one that doesn't is Washington DC

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The interstate highway system was not originally designed to go through the downtowns. Its up to the state, county or city to build their own freeway spur/connectors to connect downtown from the city. A good example of this is Greenville and Columbia, SC

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Well, almost every US city that has a huge dense downtown core has an Interstate running into the hearts of them.

The only one that doesn't is Washington DC

And although it's Canadian, Vancouver is a great example. Its core is extremely dense. I'm glad SC got it right on this one. If I could, I'd probably blow up I-277 in Charlotte. Yeah, I've heard its benefits touted on here, but I still hate it.

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The interstate highway system was not originally designed to go through the downtowns. Its up to the state, county or city to build their own freeway spur/connectors to connect downtown from the city. A good example of this is Greenville and Columbia, SC

This is true. But, only North Carolina and South Carolina cities followed that design mode. The rest of the states in the US took their Interstate systems into the core centers of their states. Might this be why some cities downtown grew more rapidly post rail transit?

What major cities outside of Washington in the US don't have major Interstate highways going into their downtown cores?

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This is true. But, only North Carolina and South Carolina cities followed that design mode. The rest of the states in the US took their Interstate systems into the core centers of their states. Might this be why some cities downtown grew more rapidly post rail transit?

What major cities outside of Washington in the US don't have major Interstate highways going into their downtown cores?

If I-85 went through downtown Durham, (I won't say Burlington because I can't see how that would work), Greensboro, and Charlotte. Those cities would be completely different. As well as the perceptions of NC cities. I will say I-95 through Raleigh would have the largest impact if it ran through downtown Raleigh via US 1. Raleigh would be a completely different city.

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One thing to keep in mind is that church st in Burlington is also HWY 70. Today, while not a vibrant busy highway as we know both 85 and 40 to be...at one time was a big deal for traveling into and through Burlington. It cuts right beside downtown today. (as well as from town to town as you travel east to west and vice versa)

Another thing to consider is that Market St in Greensboro is also old 421. This definately cuts through town.

Neither highway is a 40 or 85, but at one time carried their weight in importance.

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If I-85 went through downtown Durham, (I won't say Burlington because I can't see how that would work), Greensboro, and Charlotte. Those cities would be completely different. As well as the perceptions of NC cities. I will say I-95 through Raleigh would have the largest impact if it ran through downtown Raleigh via US 1. Raleigh would be a completely different city.

And I-95 would be a lot more interesting to drive on.

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Well, almost every US city that has a huge dense downtown core has an Interstate running into the hearts of them.

The only one that doesn't is Washington DC

At the time the interstate highways were getting off the ground, so to speak, no city in North Carolina could have been considered huge or dense in the way that Boston or Chicago are huge and dense. Therefore, none of them had the ability to heal from the wound that running a major highway through will always cause. This was proven by the major highways that did get rammed through. I-277 cut central Charlotte off from its surrounding neighborhoods, and the whole mess went tits up as a result -- which caused Charlotte to attempt ever increasly desperate urban renewal tactics, which demolished the vast majority of the city's historic architecture, which is a blot on the city that they'll never be able to shake. Some neighborhoods are still struggling to recover even now, fifty years later, and Charlotte will never have the dynamic mix that will occur when cities that preserved their history finally wake from their slumber. It'll be modern, dense, and lively, but it will always be more sterile than a place like Birmingham, Columbia, or Richmond.

In Asheville, I-240 came to town and butchered a path through town in an arc around downtown. It cut neighborhoods like Montford and Broadway off from downtown and consequently these neighborhoods dropped dead. Plus, it made it much easier for people to bypass downtown completely in favor of the sprawl and the malls, and so downtown followed suit, skipping down the path to desolation like a giddy schoolgirl. It's only through pure dumb luck that Asheville was too poor to attempt urban renewal or else we would have pulled a Charlotte and without Charlotte's business aplomb, we'd be a truly wretched place today.

I do not understand any love affair with highways. In fact, the bigger the road, the more I hate it. If someone were to tear up I-240 and replace the whole thing with buildings and parks, I'd giggle like a fiend.

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I will say I-95 through Raleigh would have the largest impact if it ran through downtown Raleigh via US 1. Raleigh would be a completely different city.

Oh dear god thank goodness it didn't. :shok: Knowing when that road was built, when historic preseration was a low priority, how much you wanna bet the area they'd ram that through would've been Oakwood?!?!? :(

It's a sheer miracle that neither I-40 nor US 52 in W-S didn't shatter up Old Salem!! :silly:

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I-77 through downtown Charlotte, along with I-277 was called one of the worst urban planning mistakes ever made by the city. It chopped up the downtown area and separated it from the rest of the city, its noisy, and because of its nature, is woefully inadequate to handle both the interstate traffic and local traffic that tries to use it. I think Charlotte would have been better off with out it and thank god they never routed I-85 downtown too.

Oh and it doesn't help the NCDOT designed some of the worst junctions on this section of the highway found anywhere in the State. Its full of left side exits/entrances, uturns, short ramps, and confusing exchanges that cause lots of accidents.

Charlotte would have been better off if they had routed I77 through east Charlotte approximate where C-4 runs through the city.

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Well, almost every US city that has a huge dense downtown core has an Interstate running into the hearts of them.

The only one that doesn't is Washington DC

Wait a second, if Washington doesn't have an interstate runing into its core, then what exactly is I-395?

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^Dont forget I-66 and even I-95

Yes, I-95 touches DC at the very bottom tip of its boundaries crossing the Potomac River

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Folks in Durham's Hayti neighborhood (adjacent to the downtown area)will argue 147 didn't help it one bit.

I love the view of Durham coming north on 147, seeing the ballpark, the American Tobacco campus. It's a shame it destroyed a neighborhood, but today I think it's pretty important.

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I-277 cut central Charlotte off from its surrounding neighborhoods, and the whole mess went tits up as a result -- which caused Charlotte to attempt ever increasly desperate urban renewal tactics, which demolished the vast majority of the city's historic architecture, which is a blot on the city that they'll never be able to shake. Some neighborhoods are still struggling to recover even now, fifty years later, and Charlotte will never have the dynamic mix that will occur when cities that preserved their history finally wake from their slumber.

While I don't disgaree with the basic premise, and I concur wholeheratedly that I-277 had a monstrous effect on central Charlotte, I have to suggest that your timeline is a little bit off here. 277 opened in sections from the 1970s to about 1987. Much of the urban renewal uptown actually preceded its construction -- or in some isolated cases was a prelude to it. As damaging as it was, 277 can't really be blamed for all the urban renewal carnage uptown.

Independence Boulevard through uptown, though, did appear in the 1950s -- to much controversy over its effect on the surrounding neighborhoods. In retrospect, though, its effect uptown (as opposed to Independence Park and points east) was relatively benign. Originally, after all, Indpendence was still a surface level street, albeit a rather large one, that more or less preseved the existing street grid. I guess that, on some level, you could argue that it was responsible for creating some of the "blight" which gave the 1960s urban renewal crowd the necessary excuse to start bulldozing.

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While I don't disgaree with the basic premise, and I concur wholeheratedly that I-277 had a monstrous effect on central Charlotte, I have to suggest that your timeline is a little bit off here. 277 opened in sections from the 1970s to about 1987. Much of the urban renewal uptown actually preceded its construction -- or in some isolated cases was a prelude to it. As damaging as it was, 277 can't really be blamed for all the urban renewal carnage uptown.

Thanks for the clarification.

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If I-85 went through downtown Durham, (I won't say Burlington because I can't see how that would work), Greensboro, and Charlotte. Those cities would be completely different. As well as the perceptions of NC cities. I will say I-95 through Raleigh would have the largest impact if it ran through downtown Raleigh via US 1. Raleigh would be a completely different city.

I think you are correct. The current perception of North Carolina is a rural state. Because you don't tend to seen the urban parts of the state.

If I-85 were to go though Downtown Durham, Greensboro and Charlotte those cities may have grown even larger earlier.

Notice how large downtown Winston-Salem is compared to downtown Greensboro. I-40 use to run into the heart of Winston-Salem. No Interstate entered downtown Durham or Raleigh. Yet, Winston-Salem has had North Carolina's 2nd largest skyline for years.

Fayetteville may have grown a lot more if I-95 entered near the center of that city.

It seems like Greensboro's downtown should have been that state's 2nd largest skyline for a long time. But, it may have been impacted due to there being no freeway in its core.

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Downtown Winston has a larger skyline simply because it had a different economic base. Winston has always been a major banking center; employing people in large office buildings in a central location, while Greensboro's was based mostly on textiles, which usually built mills on the out skirts of the city.

Had they run I-40/85 through Greensboro, I imagine it would probably have followed Lee St. through downtown and past the coliseum.

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When speaking of urban cores, interstates are a means for sprawly suburbia to get around quicker. Interstate commerce is extremely important, but how much commercial traffic is actually going to the CBD? Most of that comm. traffic is directed towards warehouses and businesses in more spread out areas further from the central core. Having interstate exits lined up in a city only creates more need for gas stations and fast food places.

By making it easier for citizens to get to their jobs, people can live further away where taxes aren't as high. Because their workforce can get to the area so easily, big businesses are more apt to build towers on small plots, thus causing a skyline to form. However, if it took people longer to get to the core, they would live closer, and thus, the travel time would remain the same and businesses could still build there just the same. So the end result for the core is the same with or without an interstate. Having more people living closer to the urban core can also promote residential towers. Thus, skylines could very well have been built even denser and taller if not for the freeways running near or through them.

Having interstates really does one thing for a city's core, they make the skyline visible. It's attractive from the interstate to be able to see the skyline. On the other hand, from the skyline, it is unattractive to see an interstate. What's more important to you?

Interstates destroy connectivity within neighborhoods merely because of poor design. I have seen roadways larger than 40, 77 and 85 in other countries that cut right through neighborhoods; yet, because of their designs, there are plenty of tunnels and passageways for which people to go from one side to the other without a problem. Sorry to brag on Sydney for a second but, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a monstrous structure that is so large that the portion that goes over land is actually larger than the portion that goes over water. Rather than going over the land it actually cuts through it when coming back down like a wall. This is a twelve lane freeway that is at least ten stories tall when it first goes over land. There are many tunnels for roads and sidewalks cutting through it to maintain that each side of the bridge, which is all residential, stays connected. And the sad part, this enormous structure does a better job of it than paltry little 277.

So yes, if designed correctly, freeways can do well more good than they can do harm. However, if basing construction on cost, those connectivity plans are deemed less important and get thrown out, in the US at least.

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Fayetteville may have grown a lot more if I-95 entered near the center of that city.

I think if I-95 was re-routed along the MLK Freeway with an extension east of Ramsey St (US 401 BUSINESS), downtown would of greatly improved. However, knowing the NCDOT, this would of been BUSINESS 95/US 401 BUSINESS because there would be a bypass to the east being the mainline I-95, likely taking place of the existening BUSINESS 95.

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I think you are correct. The current perception of North Carolina is a rural state. Because you don't tend to seen the urban parts of the state.

And it's a shame that people tend to base their perceptions of entire states based on a single interstate. I was talking to one guy who had moved to Charlotte from NYC and I asked him if the city was what he expected. He said no, because he was essentially expecting something rural and country based on his travels through NC on I-95.

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I think it would cause more congestion running I-85 through downtown greenville, and charlotte. I cant imagine how bad it would be for those two cities. I-385 going into downtown greenville handles things nicely especially since it is 6 lanes now. I think the major interstate should not cut through the core of the cities. Its just to much of a nightmare.

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No kiddin... when I was interviewing for a job in Richmond, a guy who had taken I-85 through Greensboro (before new 85) thought Greensboro was a "small town", I guess because all you see is cheap hotels and a few billboards.

And it's a shame that people tend to base their perceptions of entire states based on a single interstate. I was talking to one guy who had moved to Charlotte from NYC and I asked him if the city was what he expected. He said no, because he was essentially expecting something rural and country based on his travels through NC on I-95.

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