August 19 2013

Renovation Reroute: Plans to Remove Interstate-10 in New Orleans

In the 1950s, before the construction of Interstate-10, Treme was the wealthiest and first free African American community in New Orleans, Louisiana. At the heart of this community was Claiborne Blvd; a thriving commercial corridor lined with oak trees where the pillars of I-10 now stand. Paintings of trees, iconic African Americans, and cultural activities are reminiscent of the past landscape and culture. Unfortunately, this neighborhood has since crumbled due to blight caused by the noise, eyesores, pollution, lack of vegetation, and dangers caused by I-10. Despite its appearance, this space is still used in a variety of ways ranging from a parking lot, Mardi Gras events, hang out space, and a shelter for prostitutes and the homeless.

Zulu Parade under I-10 Mardi Gras Day 2013

It was thought an interstate in the city center of New Orleans would promote economic growth. However, research by landscape architects and urban planners has shown that over the years a functioning street grid works better than interstates. Since Katrina, it has been in the new Master Plan and the goal of community activists, along with partners such as CNU and Liveable Claiborne Communities, to tear down the Interstate over Claiborne and restore the area.

About half of the 57,000 to 69,000 cars on Claiborne would be redirected to unused streets, increasing drive time about three to six minutes during peak hours. Claiborne’s renovation plan includes a 2.2 mile stretch which widens lanes, enlarges green space, replants oaks, creates bike lanes, and includes the possibly for a light rail system to remediate traffic issues. Connecting housing to jobs, schools, and healthcare promotes liveable communities through economic development in Treme and 7th Wards.

But many locals are concerned this will negatively affect traffic time, as well as increase shipping costs for trucks. Travelling distances will increase by about 4.8 miles, costing about $33 extra for each trip.

Painted Pillars Under I-10

Increasing the cost of freight is a small price to help low income areas, restore our city, and preserve our culture. Are we going to let an outdated and unnecessary physical barrier continue to divide our communities? Or are there other unforeseen issues and benefits other global cities have experienced that could guide Nola in the right direction?

Credits: Images by Allyson McAbee. Data linked to sources.

Allyson McAbee

Allyson McAbee is a graduate of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge with a degree in Landscape Architecture. Currently living in New Orleans, Louisiana she works at a residential design, build firm while volunteering at gardens and farms around the city. Traveling to various countries initially sparked her interests in Landscape Architecture. While traveling, her desire to understand relationships between various cultures and their environments became apparent. Immediately after graduating Allyson continued her passion for traveling before making a home in New Orleans. In the Big Easy her love for culture, people, food, dancing, music, visual and performance art are available by walking down the street. Allyson plans to pursue a Masters in Urban Studies with a focus on anthropology. Finding fulfillment in community social planning, she would like to not only design with the environment in mind, but for the people who live in it. Her writing will be reflective of her interests in cultural relationships to land.

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This entry was posted on Monday, August 19th, 2013 at 9:49 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Environmental Design, Infrastructure, Land Use, Landscape Architecture, Social/Demographics, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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2 Responses to “Renovation Reroute: Plans to Remove Interstate-10 in New Orleans”

  1. Robert Poole Says:

    They’re looking to do a similar project in SF. It’s a difficult concept for people to grasp because we’ve grown up with highways and people still rely on cars. SF has been stuck with the same transit for decades and now we’re experiencing the effects of our neglect with heavy congestion. It’s probably a risky move to tear down infrastructure people use every day, but hopefully it works best in the long run. We just need to keep investing in alternative transportation methods that are sustainable. It just gots so much money!
    http://www.spur.org/publications/library/article/taking-down-freeway-reconnect-neighborhood

  2. Allyson McAbee Says:

    I agree with you completely. Efforts will be moving people away from their comfort zone, the car . Unfortunately many people in low income areas here don’t even have cars so a better solution would be finding new methods for sustainable public transit. There are studies currently being funded to research this matter more. And one proposed idea, based on this research, are new streetcars and public transit in place of the interstate.
    Although people use this everyday there are just as fast routes around the city. I feel it’s no longer a question of removing the interstate, but what is done for the surrounding community and traffic solutions once removed.
    And I hope SF and New Orleans will soon be positive examples of how these projects can come to fruition successfully!

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