Shopping on the Overpass


David Sucher of City Comforts is excited about an idea being executed in Columbus, Ohio:

The project…started out, in the mind of the Ohio Highway Department, as a simple widening of the I-670 as it rolls through Columbus, Ohio. But the adjoining neighborhoods put up a fight….

The compromise proposed by some local genius was to make the new overpass (necessitated by the wider freeway) into a city street by lining it with shops to "link rather than divide." It is under construction now.

There are pre-automotive precedents for the plan, and there are some potential drawbacks as well. But it is, as Sucher says, a very interesting model for "reconnecting the city by discovering spaces." I hope it works out, and I'm curious to see whether it will.

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  1. Ah. It’s the Ponte Vecchio for the 21st century.

  2. In Massachusetts I’ve seen buildings, a hotel and a supermarket IIRC, span highways. This is an interesting idea though.

  3. I think this is different, Mo, in that the buildings you’re thinking of are still highway-oriented office park type lots. This is in the city, and will be like a normal surface street surrounded by the rest of the city.

  4. Hey, I live in Columbus not far from where this is going up.

    The most repuslive thing about the idea is that they are going to make it look like the old train station (torn down in the late 70’s) that originally stood in that area.

    After leaving the station in disrepair, they tore it down to make way for the convention center and I-670 (a nice end-around for the greusome I-70/I-71 overlap through downtown). They kept one arch from the facade though and it presently stands near the hockey arena as if the wealthy developers involved in “The Arena District” actually lament it’s passing.

    So they’re rebuilding the train station – filling it with shops, and spanning a freeway instead of railroad tracks. I think someone is missing the point.

    By the way, we only have busses in Columbus – and they don’t go anywhere. And we’re the second largest city in the nation that doesn’t have passenger rail service (we were the largest until Phoenix lost theirs I heard).

    Meanwhile people continue to plug the notion of high-speed rail along the 3-C corridor (Cincinnati, Columbus, & Cleveland) without much thought of where it will stop.

  5. The idea is an interesting one and, if it worked, would redound to the great benefit of Columbus by seamlessly tying together a dynamic neighborhood just north of downtown with the downtown itself. But it won’t work.

    The chief problems will be noise pollution and air pollution. Remember, just below this “neighborhood street” will be an interstate highway carrying who knows how many cars and trucks. Even if the levels of pollution are somehow reduced, they will undoubtedly affect the quality of life on the overpass.

    No one will be able to forget they are walking or working on a bridge.

  6. Methinks the city planners have just finished reading the first few pages of The Roads Must Roll.

  7. City planners reading Heinlein? THAT will require a ‘grain’ of salt the size of my head!

  8. Don’t be so sure, Mark.

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