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Erase-277 (Charlotte's Downtown Loop)

Should Charlotte demolish I-277?  

143 members have voted

  1. 1. Should Charlotte demolish I-277?

    • Yes
      35
    • No
      97
    • Unsure
      11


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Hartford has done it. The city covered a portion of I-84 to create more land for development.

Boston has done it; and not just downtown...there's a grocery store and hotel over the Massachusetts Turnpike out in the suburbs.

How do they do it? Instead of digging supports and moving a lot of dirt, the structures are supported structurally...think of a super-supported bridge. The fiscal logic of course is that this is land (air) that is owned by the public and doesn't earn any income. I don't know what the ratio of cost to earnings might be but I suggest it is worthy of investigation...

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I can think of a building built over GA400 in south Buckhead......also, I'm not sure, but there may be something over I-25 in Denver where Stapleton Airports E-W runway was.......and then there are plenty of examples in Europe (of course).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yeah I just went under that today actually. I think it's either a Marriott or Hilton, 15 stories or so. I must admit there are some very nice buildings in Buckhead, I hope Charlotte can keeps its standard of architecture up so our skyline will continue to shine like Buckhead's does.

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Hartford has done it. The city covered a portion of I-84 to create more land for development.

Boston has done it; and not just downtown...there's a grocery store and hotel over the Massachusetts Turnpike out in the suburbs.

This is very true, but Hartford also has 8-10 lane interstates around the city while Charlotte has an exponentially increasing population and only has 6 lanes at the widest points. When it comes to being smart about road size we have a lot of catching up to do. The roads around here are still built for the size of a 250,000 person city not 1,000,000+ like Charlotte is. Whoever makes the road decisions should have been fired years ago when they decided to make 485 two lanes.

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You know what's horrible? Trying to get from Eastland to SouthPark during rush hour. There is no direct thoroughfare really... all the arteries are clogged up.

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Instead of remaining a downtown loop, why not redesignate I-277 to go along the Independence Freeway to I-185 and Monroe? The Brookshire half should still keep its designation. The remaining half could be used for an odd x77.

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This is very true, but Hartford also has 8-10 lane interstates around the city while Charlotte has an exponentially increasing population and only has 6 lanes at the widest points. When it comes to being smart about road size we have a lot of catching up to do. The roads around here are still built for the size of a 250,000 person city not 1,000,000+ like Charlotte is. Whoever makes the road decisions should have been fired years ago when they decided to make 485 two lanes.

Widening roads to 8-10+ lanes does not help traffic congestion.

http://user.gru.net/domz/wide.htm

People who choose to live way out the suburbs and commute a long distance deserve gridlock. You cannot take a unsustainable lifestyle and waive a magic wand to make it sustainable. You point the finger at the engineers who made 485 too narrow. I point the finger at the developers who create such intense sprawl in areas without the infrastructure to support it.

Anyone who buys a home off of 485 now and complains about traffic is a moron. I still say they should make 485 a toll road and use those funds to complete/widen it.

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Widening roads to 8-10+ lanes does not help traffic congestion.

http://user.gru.net/domz/wide.htm

People who choose to live way out the suburbs and commute a long distance deserve gridlock. You cannot take a unsustainable lifestyle and waive a magic wand to make it sustainable. You point the finger at the engineers who made 485 too narrow. I point the finger at the developers who create such intense sprawl in areas without the infrastructure to support it.

Anyone who buys a home off of 485 now and complains about traffic is a moron. I still say they should make 485 a toll road and use those funds to complete/widen it.

I never said widen it, I'm saying they never built it big enough to begin with. Plus the population in most areas of the northeast and midwest is declining as compared with the drastic increase of the south.

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People who choose to live way out the suburbs and commute a long distance deserve gridlock. You cannot take a unsustainable lifestyle and waive a magic wand to make it sustainable. You point the finger at the engineers who made 485 too narrow. I point the finger at the developers who create such intense sprawl in areas without the infrastructure to support it.

Anyone who buys a home off of 485 now and complains about traffic is a moron.

Amen

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You point the finger at the engineers who made 485 too narrow. I point the finger at the developers who create such intense sprawl in areas without the infrastructure to support it.

The engineers building four lanes for the southern section of I-485 did a piss-poor assessment of not looking into the future. It did not look into the 10 to 20 year time frame of the anticipated suburban growth that would take place in southern Mecklenburg, Weddington and upper York & Lancaster counties. I personally believe the first 2-3 years of I-485, once it received its direct connection from I-77, were moving well before it needed 6 lanes.

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The engineers building four lanes for the southern section of I-485 did a piss-poor assessment of not looking into the future. It did not look into the 10 to 20 year time frame of the anticipated suburban growth that would take place in southern Mecklenburg, Weddington and upper York & Lancaster counties. I personally believe the first 2-3 years of I-485, once it received its direct connection from I-77, were moving well before it needed 6 lanes.

It was not the engineers fault. When this road was proposed, the county and the city promised the NCDOT they would only allow very limited development along this stretch of the road. That portion of 485 was designed to allow the people people living in E. Mecklenburg and Union counties, and easy way to get to I-77, I-85 and the airport without having to go down Independence Blvd and into downtown.

The City and County however went back on their promise by bending over to the Harris Family who proceeded to build Ballentyne. Along with that, Pineville approved Carolina Place mall and all of the associated development there and as a result 485 became a local road instead of a throughway. It was never designed for that.

The fault lies with the City and County zoning authorities for not sticking to their plan to keep zoning rural in this area.

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Sorry, but this is an absurd idea, and frankly, it's actually not just Charlotte's decision to make. The feds/state protect the interstate system with a very tight grip. Interstates aren't just "erased." A freeway cap could be done, but well into the future, as there are many other higher priorities in Charlotte.

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Sorry, but this is an absurd idea, and frankly, it's actually not just Charlotte's decision to make. The feds/state protect the interstate system with a very tight grip. Interstates aren't just "erased." A freeway cap could be done, but well into the future, as there are many other higher priorities in Charlotte.

Why can't interstates be "erased"? As for capping it, I don't think that there are many priorities higher than creating more parkspace to improve the quality of life for area residents.

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Why can't interstates be "erased"? As for capping it, I don't think that there are many priorities higher than creating more parkspace to improve the quality of life for area residents.

Well.... They spent $300M to build an arena specifically for the NBA. The money instead could have been used to cap part of I-277. There is one example for you.

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We have approx. 650,000 people in Charlotte. We can not close down all freeways and interstates and just use city streets. But we can not keep on building new freeways all over town.

Charlotte road system is layed out in the spoke and wheel pattern.

Improve the signal lights and turn lanes could help with traffic problems.

The interstate hwys carry not only local traffic but out of town traffic.

You can not put this traffic on city streets.

I can remember before interstate highways, and it could take days to travel a distance, where as today the same distance can be done in a day or less. Back then you did not have as many cars or truck on the road. A lot of the roads were narrow and crooked, with narrow shoulders and bridges. The speed limit was 55mph or less. There where many bad intersection that lead to accidents and death.

I do not want to go back to this type of road system, thank you!

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We have approx. 650,000 people in Charlotte. We can not close down all freeways and interstates and just use city streets. But we can not keep on building new freeways all over town.

Charlotte road system is layed out in the spoke and wheel pattern.

Improve the signal lights and turn lanes could help with traffic problems.

The interstate hwys carry not only local traffic but out of town traffic.

You can not put this traffic on city streets.

I can remember before interstate highways, and it could take days to travel a distance, where as today the same distance can be done in a day or less. Back then you did not have as many cars or truck on the road. A lot of the roads were narrow and crooked, with narrow shoulders and bridges. The speed limit was 55mph or less. There where many bad intersection that lead to accidents and death.

I do not want to go back to this type of road system, thank you!

We are not talking about removing all of the interstates, just the useless one: 277. 277 is almost entirely local traffic and is quite frankly not needed.

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I can remember before interstate highways, and it could take days to travel a distance, where as today the same distance can be done in a day or less. Back then you did not have as many cars or truck on the road. A lot of the roads were narrow and crooked, with narrow shoulders and bridges. The speed limit was 55mph or less. There where many bad intersection that lead to accidents and death.
I can't remember before the Interstate Highway system, but from what I've heard not too many people even tried to go on long road trips because it was too tedious / tiring / strenuous / dangerous. This is more a sign of the times than of the roads, but I've also read that for a young woman to go on a long road trip alone was not just unusual, it was often looked on suspiciously because peole just thought it was unsafe. Regardless, driving just wasn't a very "civilized" way to travel for anybody. Most people didn't go on long trips as often as we do today, but when they did, they'd ride the train or take the bus.

I still hate driving long distances. Now that I have money, I'll take the train if I have the option; if not I'll drive up to 5 hours and fly if over (RDU is cheap.) When I do drive and I'm not in a hurry, I'll stay off the interstate, and given the choice between "bypass" and "business" I'll take the "business" route whenever possible. It breaks the monotony!

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Maybe you never heard of Route 66? That era of cross country highway travel was so popular they even made a TV show and song after it. There were other similar routes down the east coast. Of course bus and rail travel were very common too before the interstate.

Lucy and Ricky went from NY to California on a train.

Women did not travel alone in those days because "proper" women simply did not do so. The social morals of the day were a lot different then.

As Jerseyman4's sig so accurately says. "The Interstates made it possible to drive across the nation and not see anything".

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US 301 [scroll bottom left] is the US 66 of the east coast as it was the main route and the fastest way to Florida from the northeast. Based out of observation out of the three routes i have traveled, US 301 had far more hotel/motel establishments between Virginia and north Florida than US 1 and US 17 did combined!

While 301 is now largely a lost american past time that the elderly could tell you stories about the highway, without I-95 (and I-75 & I-77), much of the south would of not prospered from the interstate highway system. The interstate highway system is clearly the backbone of the American economy.

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277 is not just local traffic, in fact it isn't that likely to take 277 to different spots within downtown. Independence is one of the most traveled roads in the state, and it splits into the two freeways, Belk and Brookshire. Both interstates distribute interstate traffic to various points in downtown from 77 and 85.

Also, there are significant numbers of people living in intown neighborhoods that commute to the suburbs. When spouses commute in opposite directions or if only one works uptown, 277 is very important for that commute. My wife does not work uptown, and if Brookshire was erased, her commute from First Ward would have doubled in time. We would not be able to live uptown.

This city needs the distribution of primary interstate traffic, too. Without it, uptown freeway traffic would be centered around just a handful of interchanges, causing more freeway congestion, pollution, and more gridlock on the surface streets uptown. The transportation benefits of grids are from the multiple options for getting to a location. 277 acts like a freeway grid, giving freeway traffic more options to their location. But it also supports the actual grid, as people can go in any direction on the grid system and still be able to get to the freeway system. As the heart of the most populous region in the Carolinas, downtown needs the freeway capacity in order to not be choked off from the city.

The notions that the freeway cuts off downtown from nearby neighborhoods are overblown and more just a theory of people who don't spend a lot of time intown. I spend a lot of time in many neighborhoods in and out of town. I drive to those neighborhoods often, and I cross under and over the freeway when I go for walks and runs. There is no more barrier effect created by the freeway than there was created the railroad tracks and creeks that have been there for ages. Due to poor planning, however, Belk freeway does have a barrier in 2nd Ward, as there is a long stretch with no cross connection. The city is working to correct that, however, by adding a bridge connecting Alexander or Davidson to Euclid.

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"The notions that the freeway cuts off downtown from nearby neighborhoods are overblown and more just a theory of people who don't spend a lot of time intown. I spend a lot of time in many neighborhoods in and out of town. I drive to those neighborhoods often, and I cross under and over the freeway when I go for walks and runs. There is no more barrier effect created by the freeway than there was created the railroad tracks and creeks that have been there for ages. "

Brooklyn neighborhood would dispute that if it hadn't been destroyed by 277.

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I don't mean the past neighborhoods and buildings that were torn out as part of building the freeway, I mean that the present day existence of the freeway does not have as much of a barrier effect as many seem to think.

Erasing the freeway will not bring back Brooklyn.

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I don't mean the past neighborhoods and buildings that were torn out as part of building the freeway, I mean that the present day existence of the freeway does not have as much of a barrier effect as many seem to think.

Erasing the freeway will not bring back Brooklyn.

One only has to look at the stark difference between neighborhoods on either side of the highway to see that infact the highway does have a major impact on how well the downtown integrates with the surrounding city. One of the most startling is the differences betweet First Ward and the neighborhoods around Seigle Ave. One would hardly think they were in the same city. Other examples are North Tryon and West Blvd. I suspect that if the highway had never been built these places would look quite different.

And I think its been said here many many times, even respectfully by the participants in this thread, that pedestrian bridges need to be built between Dilworth and 2nd ward. This would not be necessary if the separation caused by the highway, wasn't causing an unnatural situation there.

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There has always been a creek and railroad tracks separating First Ward from Belmont and Optimist Park. The difference between Belmont and First Ward in the past decade has been a result of significant money put into First Ward by the city, the federal government, BofA CDC, and private developers as part of the HopeVI redevelopment. That money had not been spent in Belmont, therefore economic turnaround had not occurred. However, now that Piedmont Courts is being torn down, and replaced with significant public and private investment, First Ward and Belmont will start to seem more similar.

I'm not saying that the neighborhoods in uptown are identical to the neighborhoods nearby, but I am saying that there is no barrier. There were plenty of Piedmont Courts people walking through and visiting First Ward, for better and for worse. Same goes for Optimist Park. A few years ago, a pimp used to park his fancy car in front of my house and then walk in Optimist Park. So even though they are different neighborhoods, and their characters are different, 277 is not a barrier.

The only stretch that it is a barrier is between 2nd Ward and Dilworth, as there are no crossings between South and McDowell. But once one or two crossings exist, pedestrian and automobile connectivity will be restored and the neighborhoods will start to interact more.

It is an inarguable correlation that a pedestrian or standard bridge would not have to be built if 277 weren't there. But without 277 Belk, the transportation capacity in getting Uptown, Dilworth, South End, Cherry and Elizabeth traffic in and out of the regional transportation system would be significantlly diminished. We need that capacity, period. But we must also mitigate the connectivity issues by adding bridges. Once the bridges and cross connections exist, the connectivity is restored and the barrier effect is no longer true.

Neighborhoods uptown and within 2 miles of uptown have grown significantly in the past decade. They will continue to grow, almost exponentially, in the coming decades. We need as much low-volume grid connectivity, mass transit, and freeway capacity as possible to handle all the people that will be living here and working here. Without that freeway capacity, businesses and events that rely on regional visits and commuters will have much more difficulty. As the center of the entire region, freeway capacity is crucial. At this point, we already have the freeways, so the focus should be on mass transit, and grid connectivity in the coming decades. That is the city's plan, and I think as it continues, the negative effects of 277 will be reduced even more.

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Why can't interstates be "erased"? As for capping it, I don't think that there are many priorities higher than creating more parkspace to improve the quality of life for area residents.

Tell me one public body or official who is pushing for this. So the city would spend literally millions of dollars removing an interstate that is very much an integral part of the freeway network (it carries up tp 100k cars a day) over spending money on say CATS rapid transit lines, or widening Independence, or Providence, or any number of other roads in the city?

The arena was built for a specific purpose, to bring more activity uptown and of course to house the NBA team in a modern, profitable (skyboxes!) bldg. We could argue all day about the merits of the new arena and the lousy deal the city got all day, but that ship has sailed already.

What specific beneficial purpose would eliminating a critical freeway link do for Charlotte? Where would all those 100k cars go? So bringing Charlotte even more severe traffic and gridlock would be a positive deveopment?

I think it's cool to talk about fantasies that we have for our cities, things we'd like to have happen in the future. I like to do that myself. But, as someone who works in the field of transportation, I can tell you there is absolutely no way this will happen probably in my lifetime. A freeway cap? Certainly more possible, but still very far into the future unless someone miraculously comes up with the money to build it, or a tunnel.

A reminder that interstate highways by definition serve a larger purpose than just intra-city travel, so despite being a secondary interstate (I277--not 77), the federal and state governments have quite a large role in what is done with or even near those highways.

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