Let's NOT do nothing!

| 6 Comments

We have talked to people who say, "Maybe it's best if we do nothing." We respectfully disagree, it's time for Louisville to focus on "placemaking". More on that at the end of this post.

Doing NOTHING will leave us worse off than we are today by not addressing Louisville's air quality or lack of population density. These are two significant long-term challenges for our region.

First let's talk about AIR QUALITY. A few weeks ago the Brookings Institute released a study showing that Louisville's per capita carbon emissions are off the charts. We're 5th in the nation. Not good, but not surprising considering Kentucky produces relatively cheap and very dirty electricity from coal. But the Brookings report also broke down carbon emissions from trucks (no connection to our electricity), and in this category Louisville is 9th in the country. Also not surprising considering 32,000 trucks travel through our region every day and are all funneled into Spaghetti Junction where they sit in traffic and pollute our air. It's why we need the East End Bridge. Estimates vary, but the emissions from one 18-wheeler is equivalent to somewhere between 10 and 100 cars. Yikes. 

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Last week's Boston Globe story Road Hazard? discusses Tufts' researchers study detailing the health risks highways pose on local neighborhoods. Do you want to live next to 23 lanes of Spaghetti Junction?

Now, about POPULATION DENSITY. Which came first good public transit or population density? This is clearly a chicken and egg issue. Louisville needs to improve on both fronts to become a more sustainable city. Syndicated Washington Post columnist Neal Peirce wrote a column appearing in the CJ earlier this week titled Federal agencies cooperating?. You should read it. According to Peirce, the Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Transportation (DOT) are coming together to form a "Sustainable Communities Initiative". Recognizing the critical link between where people live and how they get around is critical to how our cities grow and whether we are able to preserve our country's natural landscape.

So why isn't downtown Louisville more populated? Obviously there are a lot of factors, and the current economy has hurt our current efforts. But we believe the underlying reason is that we haven't done enough PLACEMAKING.

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In the 1960s Portland, OR decided that the city's waterfront should be an important place, so they replaced a waterfront highway with a large park. In the four decades since then, the city's population has grown by more than 40% and their public transit infrastructure (light rail, streetcars and bike accessibility) is now the envy of cities across the country. Unfortunately, over the same period of time, the city of Louisville's population declined by 40%.

8664 is a systemic, transformative solution that will help address some of Louisville's greatest challenges and create a more vibrant and sustainable place. We don't mean to suggest that it is the panacea, because it's not. We will need creative leadership and strong citizen involvement to transform our city. That said, it's what we should do.

We'd welcome your feedback, so please post a comment.

6 Comments

We don't need the east-end bridge to remove I-64 from downtown!

In fact building a new east-end bridge will encourage more of the suburban sprawl and increased dependency on automobile transportation that we need to eliminate.

Thousands of acres of urban infill are waiting for re-development and offer a much greater return on investment than more road infrastructure.

If we remove I-64 and the existing road system can not handle the traffic, then we already have the plans laying around to build the east-end bridge.

We would have made much more progress and gained more support for removing I-64 from downtown, if the discussion had not been diluted with a contradictory argument to build a new east-end bridge first.

Dan

P.S. Relocated the swift plant is most likely the single greatest opportunity to spur additional urban growth in the city.


Hi Yall!
I have been in Portland, OR for the last two months for work. I live in Louisville, KY in the Germantown area. I can not believe how awesome Portland is with the mass transit and waterfront. I would move downtown in Louisville if it even 1/4 of what Portland is. I am not promoting Portland, I just see the huge opportunity that Louisville could be. And yes after months away I am missing My Old Kentucky Home!

Clark

I am not disagreeing with the urban sprawl comment. But I felt the same way you did until my work took me to Portland for months... It is truly amazing how this transportation system works out here.

Clark and Dan,

Due to current planning strategies and zoning regulations, Sprawl will occur with or without the East End bridge being built. Having the Bridge in place will certainly speed up the process, but until our current system of regional planning is drastically changed, the ultimate build-out of the areas in question is inevitable - to quote the great Howard, 'The only variable is time".

The Louisville Region needs to completely revamp and re-think it's current land-use policies and stop the rules, regulations and laws that have promoted and in fact rewarded suburban sprawl over urban infill projects.

Clark - In addition to great transportation policy, the city of Portland (and the entire state of Oregon) have what is commonly referred to as an Urban Growth Boundry; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_growth_boundary, this has essentially allowed Portland, a city that is more or less the same size as Louisville, become dense enough that it can rely on mass transit to the degree that you're now experiencing.

The Louisville area needs some visionary leadership that could actually pull something like this off.

I'm not holding my breath.

Gee, no one wants to live in downtown Louisville because of. Hmmm, Crime, Noise pollution, violence, drunks, etc.

By the way, Louisville is going to expand outwards whether the liberal loons like it or not. Or Southern Indiana will get the lions share of growth and thats something the liberal loons of Louisville will help happen. If you live in Southern Indiana, thank Louisville for spending years running out businesses and industry. After all, you get more business and industry and productive endeavors instead of living in a city of starving artists

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  • Bill: Gee, no one wants to live in downtown Louisville because read more
  • Matthew Kuhl: Clark and Dan, Due to current planning strategies and zoning read more
  • Clark Brown: I am not disagreeing with the urban sprawl comment. But read more
  • Clark Brown: Hi Yall! I have been in Portland, OR for the read more
  • Dan Borsch: We don't need the east-end bridge to remove I-64 from read more
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