Thinking big in Atlanta: Pathways not freeways. LR? Same old same old | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Thinking big in Atlanta: Pathways not freeways. LR? Same old same old

Posted By on Thu, Sep 15, 2016 at 7:46 AM

VISIONARY ATLANTA: It's building a path knitting neighborhoods together rather than more freeways. - NEW YORK TIMES
  • New York Times
  • VISIONARY ATLANTA: It's building a path knitting neighborhoods together rather than more freeways.

Daily, it seems, come reminders that the great cities of America are rethinking old strategies and finding alternatives to the suburb-fueling freeway building that dominated and destroyed cities for so long.

Yes, of course I mention this in the context of Arkansas and Little Rock officialdom holding fast to the idea that there isn't a freeway that can't be improved by more lanes and that there's no limit on how much should be spent to encourage people to live in suburbs, rather than core cities. See: 30 Crossing.

Here, in Atlanta -- strangled for years by freeways and far-flung suburbs, comes a wave of new thinking. People there are wildly excited about: 

... the Atlanta BeltLine, which aims to convert 22 miles of mostly disused railway beds circling the city’s urban core into a biking and pedestrian loop, a new streetcar line, and a staggeringly ambitious engine of urban revitalization.
The project is underway. It has far to go. It's expensive. It's exciting. It's rebuilding neighborhoods, not digging more concrete gulches to allow cars to drive faster to faraway places.

... Atlanta previously experienced decades of population loss because of suburbanization and white flight.

The tide has turned significantly in recent years. Planners now say Atlanta’s population, which stands at about 463,000, could double in the next 15 years. Many of the new residents could end up living along the BeltLine.

In a study this year, Mr. Leinberger and a colleague, Michael Rodriguez, showed that areas they identified as “walkable urban places” in the nation’s 30 largest metro areas were gaining market share over car-dependent suburban areas for “perhaps the first time in 60 years,” and earning higher rental premiums.
We could do this in Little Rock. Indeed, some far-thinking people have made impressive strides downtown. I don't expect the state freeway builders to do anything but build freeways. But you'd wish members of the LITTLE ROCK CITY BOARD would do a better job representing the city that pays them than holding Cabot commuters at the forefront of their deliberations.

Still people like City Director Lance Hines hold that it's better to shave a minute or two out of the rush half-hour so cops driving city-paid cars home will get to and from a mite quicker. (And the induced demand for still more freeway building elsewhere be damned.) City officials have even acceded in the essential takeover of the regional planning agency, Metropolan, by the forces of suburbia. Conway's mayor will be looking after the best interest of Little Rock now.  What's worse has been the utter silence about — and, in Hines' and others' cases — outspoken support for the ruination of the city school district.

Their reward will be to look around in a few years and see Atlanta, circa 2001. Then maybe we'll get a Belt Line.

Mark Pendergrast, an Atlanta-born author, in a forthcoming book about the BeltLine, notes that the city, by at least one measure, suffers from the worst income-inequality gaps of any major American city; soul-deadening sprawl and commuting times; and neighborhoods that have been chopped up by highway construction and mangled by misguided 20th-century “urban renewal” projects.
Sound familiar?

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Death penalty foes object to execution of Jack Greene

    The Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is urging Gov. Asa Hutchinson not to set an execution date for Jack Greene,  sentenced to die for a 1991 slaying in Johnson County
    • Aug 18, 2017
  • What those Confederate monuments are about: Slavery

    The Democratic Party has likely chosen a political loser in a call for removal of Confederate memorials from public grounds, but it doesn't mean the sentiment is wrong. They are tributes to the fight to preserve slavery, no more or less.
    • Aug 18, 2017
  • Arkansas unemployment rate remains at record low

    The unemployment rate in Arkansas in July was again 3.4 percent, a record low level in place since May. The labor force added more than 9,000 jobs.
    • Aug 18, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Charter school accountability: Non-existent in Arkansas

    A state audit finds charter school spending violated state law, but the state Education Department says it has no responsibility for ensuring proper management of charter schools. Say what?
    • Mar 5, 2016
  • Is Arkansas in or out on Kobach voter data effort?

    The Washington Post has published a map that counts Arkansas as among states that will "partially comply" with a sweeping request for voter data by the so-called election integrity commission set up by Donald Trump in an effort to cast doubt on Hillary Clinton's 3 million-vote popular defeat of him in 2016.
    • Jul 2, 2017
  • Policy group urges opposition to new charter seats in Little Rock

    The Arkansas Public Policy Panel is urging supporters of the Little Rock School District to tell state Board of Education members they oppose applications to be heard this week to dramatically expand the number of charter school seats in the Little Rock School District.
    • Mar 9, 2016

Most Shared

  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation