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GRDadof3

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Why make excuses for MDOT, Jeff? If we are willing to settle for band aids on broken legs, we still won't be able to run. Why not advocate for what Grand Rapids needs? Why not push MDOT? Cities all over the country are leveling and burying their freeways and we can too.

Cities all over the country? Where?

I believe in advocating for ideas that have a really good chance of happening. Not idealism that gets you dismissed from the decision making.

I do believe MDOT needs to be pushed hard for when 131 and Wealthy gets rebuilt. But bringing up ideas of burying or closing the entire highway, unless you're the Son of the Governor, you'll get laughed out of the room.

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Milwaukee, San Francisco, Boston, New York...

That's not idealism, that's real world. It can be done and it should be done. There's ample evidence of success.

See you at the table.

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Milwaukee, San Francisco, Boston, New York...

That's not idealism, that's real world. It can be done and it should be done. There's ample evidence of success.

See you at the table.

The difference, as I see it, is that most of those freeways that have been coming down were nearing the end of their lifecycle and due to be replaced soon. For good or bad, the S-curve was replaced quite recently and still is in really great shape. Seems that MDOT is not going to abandon that investment and as much as I hate it the way it cuts through downtown, I don't see it going anywhere any time soon.

I would love to see options for beginning to return to earth the other parts of 131 that are going to need replacement in the next decade or two. The 131, 196 interchange comes to mind.

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Milwaukee, San Francisco, Boston, New York...

That's not idealism, that's real world. It can be done and it should be done. There's ample evidence of success.

See you at the table.

Milwaukee's freeway was a one mile spur of a system that was never completed. It had hardly any traffic. It's much like the 131 off-ramp I think should be dismantled. Not 116,000 cars a day like 131/s-curve.

Boston Big Dig at $1 Billion in 1990's dollars? You realize Michigan is broke, right? Most States will be lucky if they survive the next 10 years...

San Francisco? New York? Any examples of any cities even close to GR's size?

I'm going to say it and probably get bitch-slapped, but I think the idealism in this town actually does more harm than good. We need practical, innovative, brilliant ideas that work within the means that we have.

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Milwaukee's freeway was a one mile spur of a system that was never completed. It had hardly any traffic. It's much like the 131 off-ramp I think should be dismantled. Not 116,000 cars a day like 131/s-curve.

Boston Big Dig at $1 Billion in 1990's dollars? You realize Michigan is broke, right? Most States will be lucky if they survive the next 10 years...

San Francisco? New York? Any examples of any cities even close to GR's size?

I'm going to say it and probably get beotch-slapped, but I think the idealism in this town actually does more harm than good. We need practical, innovative, brilliant ideas that work within the means that we have.

How does it do more harm? just curious

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I don't get your outrage, Jeff. 131 in its current configuration hurts our city. Idealism is not our problem.

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How does it do more harm? just curious

Because the idealogues tend to have a "my way or the highway" mentality.

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I don't get your outrage, Jeff. 131 in its current configuration hurts our city. Idealism is not our problem.

There's no outrage. But a discussion about having access from the market to the Rapid Central station has turned into a debate about removing the s-curve, that was just rebuilt not long ago. Not a lot of people are talking about solving the issue at hand, except the guy with the terrible tunnel idea. And what will happen is that access from the market to the central station will not be addressed, which it should be, because it will keep devolving into a discussion about removing the s-curve, which can't be taken seriously.

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My two cent suggestion: Keep Wealthy in its current configuration but enhance the public realm underneath it. This will allow for greater pedestrian connection between the "heart" of Heartside and the Urban Market. If Wealthy were brought to at-grade, the heavy vehicle traffic would act as a significant psychological barrier between the market and downtown. Treating the space underneath would blend-out that separation. Secondly, build a nice looking pedestrian bridge adjoining or separate from the Wealthy Bridge with the aforementioned ADA ramps + elevators

BTW, the Big Dig in Boston cost $15 billion in 1990s money, so GRDadof3 is right -- it ain't happening. That's not to say that discussions and advocacy should start focusing on what the ultimate condition of 131 should be. I would advocate for sinking it and capping with bridged parks in critical areas -- but this is 20 years out. Hopefully at that time, we solved our politically created infrastructure crisis.

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Because the idealogues tend to have a "my way or the highway" mentality.

While strict fundamentalists on both sides won't help the debate, there is something to be said for making sure that all ideas — no matter how extreme — are on the table. Given the way that most media reports public debates, the "middle" is seen as simply the half-way point between the two most extreme arguments. If the goalposts are set at keeping 131 the same vs. a modest improvement (e.g. pedestrian bridge), then the "compromise" won't be very good. If, OTOH, the goalposts are between the former and an urban boulevard, then that same pedestrian bridge looks much more reasonable — and affordable.

This is the same negotiation lesson that President Obama got burned learning: You can't give away all your bargaining chips upfront. Start with the most extreme position, and negotiate to the middle. This way, both sides feel that they've given something in return for getting something. Otherwise, the other side will feel like they're doing all of the work to reach a compromise.

That being said, I don't like the urban boulevard idea; a very busy road (even if it only had half of the current 131 traffic) is no better than the Wealthy overpass. I like Jippy's proposal to sink 131 below-grade - that allows for a lot more possibilities and reduces the psychological effects of the road.

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While strict fundamentalists on both sides won't help the debate, there is something to be said for making sure that all ideas — no matter how extreme — are on the table. Given the way that most media reports public debates, the "middle" is seen as simply the half-way point between the two most extreme arguments. If the goalposts are set at keeping 131 the same vs. a modest improvement (e.g. pedestrian bridge), then the "compromise" won't be very good. If, OTOH, the goalposts are between the former and an urban boulevard, then that same pedestrian bridge looks much more reasonable — and affordable.

This is the same negotiation lesson that President Obama got burned learning: You can't give away all your bargaining chips upfront. Start with the most extreme position, and negotiate to the middle. This way, both sides feel that they've given something in return for getting something. Otherwise, the other side will feel like they're doing all of the work to reach a compromise.

That being said, I don't like the urban boulevard idea; a very busy road (even if it only had half of the current 131 traffic) is no better than the Wealthy overpass. I like Jippy's proposal to sink 131 below-grade - that allows for a lot more possibilities and reduces the psychological effects of the road.

Agreed, 116,000 cars on a boulevard with traffic signals would probably require it to be 8 lanes in each direction. Look at the East Beltline between I-196 and Knapp's Corner. There's an example of a boulevard that is a complete failure. I'm guessing it has the most rear end collisions of any road in the State (multiple times daily) and it's only 1/3 the traffic of 131. And it's really not pedestrian friendly crossing it.

How would you sink a highway and then run it over the river?

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Removing the S-Curve is specifically defined as a goal in the Master Plan in 2002. It has already been taken seriously.

http://grcity.us/des...nsportatio

Removing the S-Curve is specifically defined as a goal in the Master Plan in 2002. It has already been taken seriously.

http://grcity.us/des...nsportation.pdf

It's been a long time since I've read that, but weren't they talking about 131 North of I-196? Not through downtown?

n.pdf

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All this discussion was spurred by the less than visionary solution of putting tunnels in to connect one huge economic investment with another huge economic investment. Tunnels. Can we further minimize the pedestrian? Can we further tell the pedestrian that we just don't care about their mobility? Let them walk through undignified tubes from a great transit station to the urban market, while the automobiles get gold plated infrastructure.

The bridge solution seems tenable, but again it it not addressing a true multi-modal city. It is a patch. It is simply saying that we are designing our city for cars first. When you design a city for cars you get cars. When you design a city for people you get people. We should start thinking of better ways to design our city for people. Tubes and tunnels and even bridges are less than hopeful solutions toward that goal. They are the default solution. The status quo.

This discussion needs to address the bigger issue, which is the simple fact that this billion dollar highway rips through the city fabric so that we can do one simple thing.....move more cars. Everything else is subservient to that goal.

The simple solution to the original problem is to walk up to Cherry, take it to Ionia and walk down Ionia. This requires little or no expenditure....except maybe having a sidewalk on the south side of Cherry! This is not as compelling as tubes or bridges, but it may be all that we get. The big idea solution is to remove that highway AND begin planning for that removal right now. Whether it is buried or turned into a surface street is inconsequential at this point in time - we just need to start talking about what it will take to get rid of it in its current form. How, when and why?

Once that highway is removed, many of these issues will take care of themselves. We need to re-establish the street grid, reconnect to the river, make amends in the connection of the east and west sides of the city. This begins to happen with a reconfigured S-curve. And we get the ancillary benefits of having a city that actually designs for people first....not cars. We also get potential for new economic development. Oh and we can, in a more dignified way, address the pedestrian connection between the transit station and the market.

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It always seemed to me that 131 and 196 were kind of redundant from their intersection to the Burton street exit for 131 and the Chicago exit for 196. Between those two points we have 2 highways running parallel to one another only 1.5 miles apart.

There is a little tributary to the Grand that intersects 131 near Burton and creates a natural ROW. Why not follow the creek and combine 131 and 196 until we get to the big junction downtown? Tear up 131 from Burton to 196 and keep 131 North from there. See thumbnail.

We’d still have plenty of highway off-ramps near downtown, so the office community couldn’t complain too much about highway access. We’d free up tons of real estate in central downtown, remove the S-curve and connect the urban market to ITP Central station/Amtrak.

post-5331-0-71167400-1335300300_thumb.jp

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I like Mark's idea. Even the biggest (and best planned cities) have significant roadblocks in certain areas that prevent them from being truly pedestrian friendly. Have you ever walked from Michigan Avenue in Chicago to Navy Pier? NOT pedestrian friendly. I'm not suggesting that people shouldn't think big, but maybe simple is the better solution

Seems like we need to think small here. The S-Curve isn't going away anytime soon.

- Could the S-Curve be raised and wealthy brought back to street level? Sounds interesting, but at what cost?

- Could a pedestrian bridge be build to span the Wealthy street bridge? Would the clearance required make the bridge span even possible? It could be a cool statement, but I bet a lot of people would walk under the bridge anyway and save themselves time.

- In Tokyo, they build usable space into the "underside" of the bridge (create space, put in a billygoat and troll inspired bar and you are all set. ;)). You don't even realize you are under a bridge. Would that be possible? Would it serve as enough of a connection between Ionia North and South of Wealthy?

- Or do you simply make a wide, safe sidewalk with plenty of lighting (and some good art) to make it not seem so ominous.

I think if we infill some of the arena lots and pay careful attention to pedestrians, it won't seem like such an obstacle.

Thoughts?

Joe

The simple solution to the original problem is to walk up to Cherry, take it to Ionia and walk down Ionia. This requires little or no expenditure....except maybe having a sidewalk on the south side of Cherry! This is not as compelling as tubes or bridges, but it may be all that we get. The big idea solution is to remove that highway AND begin planning for that removal right now. Whether it is buried or turned into a surface street is inconsequential at this point in time - we just need to start talking about what it will take to get rid of it in its current form. How, when and why?

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It always seemed to me that 131 and 196 were kind of redundant from their intersection to the Burton street exit for 131 and the Chicago exit for 196. Between those two points we have 2 highways running parallel to one another only 1.5 miles apart.

There is a little tributary to the Grand that intersects 131 near Burton and creates a natural ROW. Why not follow the creek and combine 131 and 196 until we get to the big junction downtown? Tear up 131 from Burton to 196 and keep 131 North from there. See thumbnail.

We’d still have plenty of highway off-ramps near downtown, so the office community couldn’t complain too much about highway access. We’d free up tons of real estate in central downtown, remove the S-curve and connect the urban market to ITP Central station/Amtrak.

I think that's a brilliant idea, but what would that do to the neighborhoods you are crossing through in the new path? Would you bury that whole section of new highway? I like the thought of completely rerouting 131 though. Old 131 could become a very nice boulevard at ground level bringing you into downtown.

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It always seemed to me that 131 and 196 were kind of redundant from their intersection to the Burton street exit for 131 and the Chicago exit for 196. Between those two points we have 2 highways running parallel to one another only 1.5 miles apart.

There is a little tributary to the Grand that intersects 131 near Burton and creates a natural ROW. Why not follow the creek and combine 131 and 196 until we get to the big junction downtown? Tear up 131 from Burton to 196 and keep 131 North from there. See thumbnail.

We’d still have plenty of highway off-ramps near downtown, so the office community couldn’t complain too much about highway access. We’d free up tons of real estate in central downtown, remove the S-curve and connect the urban market to ITP Central station/Amtrak.

If I'm not mistaken, I think this was actually the original idea for the highway decades ago before the geniuses decided to ram it through the middle of town.

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131 has 100k+ cars a day. Who would serious consider burying it, removing it, or otherwise doing anything to it just so that people could walk from a market to a bus station? I might not be being particularly visionary here, but that's about the last thing we need to be blowing money on. If this were a great city with fantastic schools, zero vacancy, and high property values, and someone would actually want or pay a premium for the land that would make this even remotely worth doing, I might see the point. But it isn't. And there is absolutely no point to any of this. Don't get me wrong--the highway isn't a great thing right where it is, but it was built the way it is and where it is for a lot of good reasons (cost and space constraints, primarily). Money does not fall from the sky like magic to do this stuff. And with all due respect to those who might think otherwise, easier access to bus stations isn't going to do a lot in terms of revitalization in this city.

I can't agree with Mark on this one. If we don't design for cars at this stage of the City's existence, we might as well not even bother. The bus? Walking? Seriously. Who does that? This isn't exactly Chicago. If, in fact, this City at some point as the population again and interest again in downtown to make it a proper city, things will happen in due time, and won't be wasted money. Let's wait to see if this urban market thing actually works first, or turns out to be an expensive boondoggle before spending gobs on infrastructure in the area.

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If I'm not mistaken, I think this was actually the original idea for the highway decades ago before the geniuses decided to ram it through the middle of town.

No, the city fathers / businesses wanted the freeway to go thru downtown to keep shoppers coming downtown. They were very concerned over the 1st shopping center being built in GR - Rogers Plaza on 28th St. They wanted it so bad the city issued bonds to help pay for it.

The reason Wealthy is elevated was the number of RR tracks parallel to 131 on both sides. Raising Wealthy eliminated a lot of tracks crossing Wealthy. MDOT way back in the 30's proposed either a tunnel under the tracks and a bridge over the tracks. Neither was built.

I do not see any "demand" for folks to walk to the market from the bus station and back. It would make more sense to me to have a bus route serve it for those bus riders that would patronize the market - just a few steps from the shops to the bus - that's user friendly (good idea John E :good: )

Edited by Raildudes dad

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- In Tokyo, they build usable space into the "underside" of the bridge (create space, put in a billygoat and troll inspired bar and you are all set). You don't even realize you are under a bridge. Would that be possible? Would it serve as enough of a connection between Ionia North and South of Wealthy?

For the particular and specific situation, John's got the idea. If there were more on the other side of the highway, the bus wouldn't be the solution because not everyone would ride it. But realistically, all we've got is a pedestrian connection between the bus station and the market to worry about -- these people are riding the bus anyway, so service down Ionia solves it.

For the much broader issue of highways separating neighbourhoods, however, installing businesses beneath them seems ideal to me and is the most efficient use of space.

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I can't agree with Mark on this one. If we don't design for cars at this stage of the City's existence, we might as well not even bother. The bus? Walking? Seriously. Who does that? This isn't exactly Chicago. If, in fact, this City at some point as the population again and interest again in downtown to make it a proper city, things will happen in due time, and won't be wasted money. Let's wait to see if this urban market thing actually works first, or turns out to be an expensive boondoggle before spending gobs on infrastructure in the area.

Agreed, I have never bought the 'if they're doing it in Chicago (or Tokyo) then we should do it here' mentality. Let's wait and see how this market turns out first before declaring it a success. We're getting ahead of ourselves but then again the idealism is what's always made this forum so interesting ... and amusing.

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