June 9, 2007
By Ken Krayeske • 10:45 PM GMT
Under the Queensway highway in Birmingham, England, city planners have infused a sense of joy and good spirits into a place normally devoid of fun. The colorful light balls and paint job, as well as the mosaic tiled floor create a space welcoming to people. Across from the pedestrian area under this bridge is a parking lot, that is not ugly.
Adam Bulger over at the Hartford Advocate beat me to the punch in writing about the Aetna Viaduct. Urban Planner Toni Gold beat us both to the punch back in February, but Adam wrote about it this past week.
His was a good story, although I must say both Adam and Joe Barber, who he quoted, are friends of mine. I would have liked Adam to have included a disclaimer in the story that he and Joe Barber are friends and housemates.
Before I get too tall on my high horse, it is possible that I have quoted Joe Barber in columns and not put that disclaimer in myself. But in the future, I think we all need to be more forthcoming about relationships that must be disclosed.
With that painful journalistic bit out of the way (it sucks having to say stuff to friends, especially when I am in Liverpool right now and can't really call him for an explanation). So if I get one from Adam, I'll post it.
What's really important here is that a contingent of city leaders want the Connecticut Department of Transportation to address the destructive rift of highway separating Frog Hollow and Asylum Hill.
Walking around Birmingham, England on Friday afternoon, the photos posted here represent some ideas that might benefit the city and the DOT as they begin discussions surrounding improving the cleave between neighborhoods.
Spaces underneath elevated highways needn't be horrible pedestrian spaces, but can be creatively designed to invite foot traffic. The Colt gateway to the mighty Connecticut River should take note of this too, as the space under I-91 is calling for something more than cold blue steel rafters and dirt floors.
In this photo, also from Birmingham, city planners painted a bridge on Bridge Street in a Victorian decorative motif, making the bridge easy on the eyes.
The city of Providence has done something similar at the bottom of Wickenden Street, with murals around giant pillars supporting Interstate 195.