Tag Archives: Big Dig

How to save the Greenway? Make it a neighborhood


Robert Campbell brings us this story on Boston‘s Rose Kennedy Greenway.  The Greenway is the result of Boston’s Big Dig, where they put a section of I-93 underground and built a linear park on top of it.  The problem is, the Greenway is little more than nice landscaping (not even great landscaping).  It is often devoid of pedestrian life while neighboring areas such as Quincy Market are vibrant and alive.  “There are things to look at but nothing to do,” Campbell says.  He proposes that the Greenway be turned into a neighborhood, first by building housing along the edges of the park and working to attract restaurants and cafes.  Planning documents that show some of these ideas are just now starting through the Boston City Hall, many years after they could have been best implemented.  Old planning laws made recommendations such as having a minimum of 75% public open space, which doesn’t leave much room for private buildings or the people who live in and patronize them.  It may be too late to redo the Greenway in the best way possible, but making its edges alive will help to turn it into a more desirable place.  It was a good idea to cover I-93, but this was only going halfway to making this part of Boston a real neighborhood, like it used to be.

Deep six for I-95 by Penn’s Landing?


Inga Saffron brings us what could be excellent news on Philadelphia‘s stretch of I-95 at Penn’s Landing.  After seeing the success of Boston‘s Big Dig in improving congestion, providing greenspace, and reattaching a variety of districts and Boston’s waterfront, Philadelphia is investigating the feasability of dismantling this stretch of I-95.  With inspiration from the urban- and redevelopment-focused leadership of Obama and Mayor Nutter, some want to take the opportunity to redevelop this area, fronting the Delaware River, into something more useful than an under-used freeway needing renovation.  Unlike Boston, Philadelphia has no intention of digging a big trench to reorient traffic; instead, they simply need to tear down the freeway and reroute traffic onto city streets, which means that it will be much less of an engineering marvel (and much less expensive) than the Big Dig.  In fact, it may be better compared to San Francisco‘s Embarcadero than Boston’s Big Dig.  The freeway is about a block wide and would allow the city to expand into this area, creating new real estate.  CNU’s John Norquist, who has been heading up the initiative to turn freeways across the country into boulevards, has encouraged Philadelphia leaders to “Get rid of it.”  There is some opposition, mostly based on how much it would cost to tear down the freeway (which wouldn’t be expensive and would easily be offset by new tax revenues) and on whether traffic would be managable, and as I’ve said, I think we should subject the car to pedestrain traffic, not the other way around.  I think this is a wonderful development for the future of Philadelphia and I hope that it actually does happen within the next few years.