Octavia w Bikes_Steve at Nelson-Nygaard

This is the fifth post in a series that highlights the public’s opinion about case studies from other cities. To read other posts in this series, click here.

In this post we’ll look at Octavia Blvd. in San Francisco. To learn more about that project, click here.

Here are a few of the key aspects that workshop attendees liked about this case study:

- Promotion of alternative modes of travel – Octavia Boulevard was seen as embracing a “Complete Streets” approach that made the city more “human-centered” by encouraging the use of public transit and promoting a bicycle and pedestrian friendly environment.  Attendees also liked that this case study was not a “car-dominant” solution, but one which provided a better mix of transportation options and encouraged people to think about alternatives to auto travel.

- Aesthetics and design – Many thought this case study also created a more visually appealing urban environment that acted as an “aesthetic gateway” to the city with new trees, parks, plazas and public art.

- Economic development and neighborhood reintegration – If applied to Syracuse, participants felt there would be an opportunity for significant redevelopment and revitalization of downtown.  In addition, it could restore the urban fabric – reconnecting neighborhoods and communities and encouraging people to stop and support local businesses.

- Barrier removal – With the elimination of the elevated highway, many felt this would remove the barrier created by I-81, “open up” the city, and “scale” more closely to the size of Syracuse.

- Cost effective – Some attendees felt that this would be the most cost-effective solution in the long run as the maintenance costs for the road would be less expensive than those associated with a highway.

Key aspects that attendees disliked about this case study were:

- The impact on traffic operations – Many were concerned that a boulevard option in place of the current I-81 would increase travel times, cause significant congestion downtown, and shift the traffic burden to other highways and local streets.

- Economic and community impacts – Some felt that removing I-81 from downtown Syracuse would discourage people from going downtown and encourage people to leave the city – both having a “devastating” impact on the local economy.  Some also were concerned that widening of the right-of-way to accommodate a new boulevard would require eminent domain to take many structures in adjacent neighborhoods.

- Safety issues – A few attendees felt that a boulevard would reduce walkability and provide a less safe environment for pedestrians.

For more information about what we learned at the workshops, make sure to sign up for our mailing list – you’ll be the first to know when the full workshop summary is available!

Photo by Steve Boland, Nelson\Nygaard, with permission

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