Sunday, June 27, 2010

Replicating Boston's Big Dig With The Lloyd Expressway

Late this year, a Lloyd Expressway overpass going over Fulton Avenue will open up with construction being complete. While this is one of the few projects in Evansville that seems to have the majority of the support from local residents, in my opinion it has two major flaws.

1. It drains from the gas tax. I am under the belief that the gas tax should be used to fund projects that will improve the future of transportation by 1. Eliminating the need for oil 2. Safely increase the speed of transportation & 3. Reduce the costs of transportation. High speed rail, Maglev rail, Personal Rapid Transit, and Light Raill all answer these three questions. Funding an overpass over Fulton Avenue will only eliminate a few car wrecks and save motorists maybe 5 or 10 minutes. In the long run, the overpass is basically useless, thus the gas tax should have never been used to fund it.

2. This overpass is above ground not below ground. This mistake has resulted in the division of downtown from the rest of Evansville and it has occupied much vital land. If the Lloyd Express were buried, there would be several hundred acres of downtown land opened up. This land could be used to 1. Redig the Wabash and Erie Canal 2. Construct a high speed rail line ( I would prefer high speed rail replace the Lloyd underground) 3. Construct a gateway entrance park like the ones in the 2001master plan.

While this may seem like a radical plan, there already is a precedent for this project. Facing a cramped city with no room to go, Boston decided to bury it's interstates that go through its downtown. Known as "The Big Dig," the project freed up much land downtown where parks, shops, and buildings now call home.

Although Evansville isn't as crowded as Boston, it would do wonders for the city to free up valuable land next to downtown. All of this land would put a significant amount of revenue in the downtown TIF districts coffers which would 1. Pay off the arena quicker 2. Fund a ballpark on the Mulzer Stone site & 3. Free up much needed land for a canal.

It may be a difficult project to achieve politically, but sooner or later Evansville needs to realize that burying the Lloyd not elevating it is the solution.