Monday, September 15, 2008

I-95 in New Haven: Put It Underground

The interstate highway system is one of those monumental mistakes that, if it weren't so massive, we would look at it rationally and dismantle it. In my book I quoted Crabgrass Frontier by Kenneth Jackson, who quoted Lewis Mumford, who wrote in the mid 1950s, "When the American people, through the Congress, voted a little while ago for a $26 billion highway program, the most charitable thing to assume is that they hadn't the faintest notion of what they were doing."

There are many reasons why the interstate highway system is bad, but one of the most obvious is that the highways were built in bad places. I'm thinking now in particular of New Haven, where I-95 is an enormous barrier between where people live and work (that is, in the city of New Haven) and their beautiful harbor. This story, from the Register, talks about state and city plans to somehow improve the highway and the local roads. My solution: make a priority list that says this -- cars and trucks are not the most important thing in the world; they are destructive but, for the time being, useful; it would be better for everyone if people could easily get to the harbor and the shoreline. So put vehicles in their proper place. Tear down the highway, and tunnel 95 under the city.


Anonymous Bryan said...

I wouldn't just blame the feds. Robert Moses did a job on Sunset Park in Brooklyn when he built the Gowanus. What he left was a neighborhood more suited for Terry Malloy and Hubert Selby's characters from "Last Exit to Brooklyn". His monstrosity was eventually incorporated into the federal highway system.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Emmett said...

As a New Haven resident, let me be the first to say "here here!" Maybe if the highway was underground in New Haven, it could be a more gentle curve instead of the hairpin-shaped interchange we have now. There is almost always traffic on I-95 around New Haven, which I believe is a result of the shape of the highway there.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous TicketMaster Blog said...

well i cant solely blame the feds.

1:54 AM  

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