Utilizing the Space Beneath Bridges – Some More Examples | streets.mn

Cross-posted from streets.mn: Utilizing the Space Beneath Bridges – Some More Examples

I want to thank Reuben for posting Utilizing the Space Beneath Bridges

Since I cannot put images in comments, I will post these as further examples, from Borough Market, London, Brixton, and the Darling Harbour, Sydney, respectively. The first three pictures are under railway bridges, the last a freeway bridge.

Borough Market - London
Borough Market – London
Borough Market, London
Borough Market, London
Brixton, London - Shops in the Viaduct
Brixton, London – Shops in the Viaduct
Carousel in Sydney, Australia
Carousel in Sydney, Australia


Not dead but buried | streets.mn

Cross-posted from streets.mn Not dead but buried.

Not dead, but buried

About 150 years ago, London, then a metropolis of 2.8 million people, opened the Metropolitan Line, the world’s first subterranean railway. (There are many good histories.)

Why did London go underground? It didn’t want its core (The City of London) sliced up with railways going hither and yon. It was not an unconsidered decision, the whole process of first ensuring lines did not cut through the City established early on (the first Railway to London was 1838), the Report on Termini recommending the Underground in 1856, with opening in 1863. While many US cities, including St. Paul, managed to build Union Stations, London was practically circumnavigated by about 17 major surface railway stations terminating lines to the rest of England. The Metropolitan Line was built to connect the northern slew of them, from Paddington through Marylebone, Euston, St. Pancras, King’s Cross to Farringdon. It was built underground of course, so as preserve surface level connectivity, in the case of London, mostly existing local streets. They used cut-and-cover construction. It was a phenomenal success (and profitable!), and was quickly replicated throughout London. Other cities eventually caught on. Today Asian cities are outbuilding them all.

About 50 years ago, Minneapolis St. Paul, then a city of 1.6 million people, opened I-94 and I-35, freeways connecting the city to its suburbs and to other cities in the US. (There are also many good histories.)

Unfortunately, Greater MSP learned nothing from history and did not go underground in the core cities, and we see the result today, downtowns disconnected from the rest of the region by highways. People close enough to walk to the core who cannot.

The idea of underground highways is not new. In 1940, Robert Heinlein penned The Roads Must Roll. We have had tunnels underground as well as under water. Even the Twin Cities has a land tunnel under the Lowry Hill to preserve the neighborhood above.

Unfortunately the Big Dig has given such roads a bad name. Fortunately the Twin Cities does not require any more digging, we just require bridging, many miles of Twin Cities roadways are built in trenches begging to be capped. There are many examples nationally todraw from.


The experience of Air Rights in Minnesota is not vast, but it does exist. In Duluth there is a park built above a Freeway. An advantage of parks is that they do not require Benefit/Cost Analysis, unlike some other investments. In Minneapolis, we have both parking ramps and the Twins Stadium built atop I-394. Part of the University of Minnesota crosses what used to be the Washington Avenue Freeway Trench.

But we can of course do so much more. When I was teaching Networks and Places a few years ago, we often selected as group projects the design of an Air Rights/Land Bridge project across a Twin Cities freeway section. The whole exercise was written up here from a pedagogical perspective. The specific ideas generated (linked below) varied from plausible to implausible. The general concept remains valid, freeways in Greater MSP dismember the urban fabric, and we need to sew patches to restore the structural integrity of the transportation mesh.

Think about I-94 between St. Paul and Minneapolis. Most of it is entrenched. Much of it could be bridged creating viable land uses. This is not cheap, and surface parking indicates land is not yet sufficiently scarce we need to create more of it, but it is about more than just creating developable properties or parking ramps, it is also about accessibility, walkability, and a city worth living in.

We could think about the best sites to do this on. I would start with roads crossing the freeways without exits to the freeways. The reason is the simplification of traffic movements, and reduced costs, as well as more success as sidewalk facing land use.

We could also think about which land uses to enable. Parks are always popular. Retail in retail districts is as well. Parking ramps over freeway Bus Rapid Transit (the Orange and Red lines) may be appropriate. If buildings they may simply front on streets, or they might cover entire blocks, especially if parks. There are costs the larger they are, with ventilation and other mechanical systems to be considered, as well as structural systems and construction complications.

The most obvious are the following (from West to East):

I-94 in Minneapolis

    • Groveland Ave
    • Lasalle Ave
    • Nicollet Ave
    • 1st Ave


  • Park Ave
  • Chicago Ave

    I-94 in St. Paul

  • Cleveland Ave
  • Prior Ave

  • Pascal St
  • Hamline Ave

    • Lexington Parkway
    • Victoria St.
    • Dale St.
    • Western Ave
    • Marion St.
    • Wabasha St.
    • Cedar St.
    • Minnesota St.
    • Robert St.
    • Jackson St.
    • E 7th St.

    Mn 280

    • Larpenteur Ave
    • Territorial Road
    • University Ave
    • Franklin Ave

    I-35W in Minneapolis (from North to South)

    I-35E in St. Paul (from North to South)


    • Grand Ave
    • St. Clair Ave
    • Randolph Ave
    • Fort Road / 7th Street W

    italics indicates freeway conflict

    Of the identified sites, I would vote for Nicollet 1st and Chicago 2nd, Hamline 3rd, Cedar 4th, Franklin (I-35W) 5th based on market potential and ability to better connect communities.

    Did I miss any? What others should there be?

    Your job: make the case for the best potential Minnesota freeway cap, what it should be, and why in the comments.

    Designing and Assessing a Teaching Laboratory for an Integrated Land Use and Transportation Course.

    Recently published:
    King, David, Kevin Krizek, and David Levinson (2008) Designing and Assessing a Teaching Laboratory for an Integrated Land Use and Transportation Course. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board #2046 pp 85-93 [doi]

    The intersection of land use and transportation policy is becoming an increasingly important focus for all urban planners. This focus, however, challenges the academic community to design effective courses that teach the concepts and professional skills required for professional experience. Integrated land use and transportation courses should engage students to develop interdisciplinary skills while becoming familiar with, for example, travel behavior and zoning policies. Laboratory
    courses (or segments of courses) as part of graduate curricula provide platforms to further emphasize skills. A common pedagogy problem is devising laboratory assignments that are integrative, cumulative, practical, and interesting for students. Furthermore, laboratory projects should introduce students to real-world problems and techniques while exploring broad planning themes. This paper presents uses four years of laboratory segments from a land use-transportation course (LUTC) at the University of Minnesota to evaluate the needs and results of practitioner-oriented
    land use and transportation planning education. The laboratory used group projects where students proposed integrated developments using air rights above existing (and sunken) urban freeways in the Twin Cities. The projects provided a practitioner-oriented project through a collaborative and reflexive learning process. This article describes the completed projects, as well as the technical skills, integrated approach and visionary planning necessary for successful execution. The students addressed complicated problems associated with large-scale development by researching neighborhood demographics, characteristics, and pertinent regulations. They used their research to analyze traffic impacts, propose zoning regulations, and outline costs and benefits from their proposal using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), statistical analyses, assessor data and traffic engineering manuals. Using the completed student projects and comparisons with other land use-transportation course and laboratory projects the authors demonstrate how these laboratory components serve multiple pedagogy goals.
    Keywords: Air Rights, Transportation-Land Use Planning, Education

    Value Capture for Transportation Finance

    Our Value Capture for Transportation Finance study is now out.

    Detailed reports will be placed online soon.

    About the Study
    Large public investments in state transportation infrastructure–such as new freeway interchanges, highways, or transit stations–can increase the value of adjacent private land, sometimes substantially. Capturing the value of this benefit through various tools is gaining interest as a finance mechanism for infrastructure investments. But many questions remain: Does “value capture” promote or hinder economic development? How high should the tax rate be? How stable is the revenue?
    To answer these and other questions, the state legislature appropriated funding to CTS to study the public policy implications of value capture.
    Researchers reviewed the relationship between transportation and land values, including the measurement of benefits from a transportation improvement, as well as the legal and economic frameworks for capturing the value gains. They explored the major financing techniques associated with value capture–such as joint development of infrastructure and adjacent private parcels, rezoning and reselling, impact fees, special assessment districts, and tax increment financing–and some examples of their implementation. They then evaluated several of the proposed policies and their suitability for implementation locally, based on the criteria of economic efficiency, social equity, adequacy as a revenue source, and feasibility.