“A Plan in New Haven to Right a Highway’s Wrong
By C. J. HUGHES Published: July 17, 2012
NEW HAVEN — In the 1950s, this city, like others, believed that the best way to get people back from the suburbs was to build more highways.
A result was the Oak Street Connector, a limited-access spur off Interstate 95 leading to the central business district. The thought was to make it easy for suburbanites to drive in and spend money downtown, instead of at new shopping centers on the outskirts.
But like other urban renewal projects from the era, what seemed like a good idea at the time is now considered by many to have been a big mistake.
The highway, part of Route 34, severed the Hill neighborhood from the heart of downtown and hastened the Hill’s decline, because nobody wanted to walk across a wide, busy highway to get to the neighborhood, according to city leaders, business owners and residents. This has been a problem for the fortunes of the Hill in general, as well as for Yale University, whose medical, nursing and public health schools and hospital are there, and for the growing medical industry that has sprung up around it in recent years.
But city officials say help is on the way from Downtown Crossing, a $135 million redevelopment plan that has been years in the making.
Echoing recent efforts by San Francisco, Milwaukee and Boston to alter or remove their highways, Downtown Crossing targets a one-mile, mostly sunken section of the connector running roughly between Orange and College Streets.
Though details are still being worked out, the plan calls for building streets, sidewalks and buildings on platforms above the existing highway. The city’s grid in the area would be restored, creating a more pedestrian-friendly environment, and the Hill would be reattached. The highway will have fewer exits into the city and will lead directly into parking garages.
Downtown Crossing would create 10 acres of new, developable property and increase the tax rolls, according to the city’s Office of Economic and Business Development, which is overseeing the project.
This summer, the project took a major step closer to reality, although some opposition exists.”
Via: The New York Times