Writer and critic Michael Kimmelman, who was in town for the Idea Festival, gives props to Louisville’s charming historic architecture and large riverfront park:
“So Louisville has good bones, good architects and some good ideas.”
But ultimately the piece entitled “Does Louisville Need More Highways?” questions the downtown portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project and our little progressive city’s addiction to the highway. Kimmelman argues that adding more traffic lanes doesn’t reduce traffic but induces “demand” and encourages sprawl rather than creating a vibrant downtown.
“As for the notion that expanding the interstate tangle and adding the sister bridge next to the Kennedy might bring more people and jobs into the city, I can only say that 40 years after the interstates supposedly started pumping life into Louisville’s downtown, the streets here looked pretty empty to me, especially at night.
Maybe that’s an outsider’s misperception. But removing the highways, or downscaling them, might turn downtown and its adjacent neighborhoods, including the riverfront, into more attractive places. And where highways have come down in other cities, property values have gone up. What brings life to a city are attractions, services, homes and walkable streets.
At the least, Louisville needs to devote far more resources to public transit. It’s great that the waterfront park opened and that groups of citizens are nurturing neighborhoods. But why repeat costly mistakes? We see traffic problems today and ask how to ease them. But it’s better to think first about what kind of city streets and neighborhoods a city wants, what kind of waterfront it should have and how mass transit could change things.”