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Local Street Networks and the Future of Claiborne Avenue

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Published on Dec 19, 2011

On December 6, more than 120 New Orleans residents attended "Local Street Networks and the Future of Claiborne Avenue." This event presented research and reflections from both local and national experts that helped residents understand the potential impact of an I-10 freeway removal. Since the City of New Orleans received TIGER II funds ten months ago for a transportation study on the Claiborne Corridor but has yet to release a request for proposal, this event helped spark renewed interest in removing I-10 from New Orleans' urban fabric. CNU and the Claiborne Corridor Improvement Coalition issued a preliminary study last year that discussed alternative visions for the corridor, particularly an urban boulevard option in lieu of the elevated highway. Before the City releases its request for proposals to conduct the federal study, the Coalition's event sought to educate residents on a potential highway removal project favoring a boulevard conversion effort.

Councilmember Kristin Palmer and CNU President & CEO John Norquist kicked off the evening with their local and national experiences with elevated highways. Next, John Renne from University of New Orleans presented his students' research and community survey around a potential teardown project. Also at the event, Jonathan Tate's students from Tulane presented architectural renderings that showed the many possibilities for the Claiborne Corridor. The featured speaker was Eric Dumbaugh, a national street design expert that has also contributed to CNU's work in Designing Walkable Thoroughfares. Dumbaugh is Professor and Program Coordinator for the Master's of Urban and Regional Planning at Florida Atlantic University. He delivered a lecture that outlined common transportation arguments to highway removal projects. Dumbaugh's presentation successfully addressed many questions about traffic flow impacts on the street grid, congestion concerns, and pedestrian safety. As a result, the event opened up dialogue within the community after a long waiting period, stoking argument and debate about creating a livable, sustainable urban environment.

The evening ended with comments from Bill Gilchrist, Director of Place-based Planning in the Office of Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Gilchrist reaffirmed the city's commitment to the Claiborne Avenue community as well as updated the audience on the current progress of the City's TIGER II grant. The City intends to release a request for proposals for professional services to assist the City in a transportation study within the next several weeks.

The event was organized by CNU and the Claiborne Corridor Improvement Coalition, with support from the Ford Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Tulane University's School of Architecture, and University of New Orleans' Merritt C. Becker, Jr. Transportation Institute. If you have questions about this event series or would like more information about Highways-to-Boulevards in New Orleans, please contact Caitlin Ghoshal at cghoshal [at] cnu [dot] org.

Thanks to Tara Tolford and John Renne at University of New Orleans for filming and editing event footage.

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