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City of Rochester

Rochester is trying again to get federal highway funding to fill in the eastern portion of the Inner Loop. The city’s first application needed to show more progress on design work.

The city is seeking $15 million to cover the total project cost of $20 million.

Rochester sees the Inner Loop as an outdated, underutilized noose around the neck of downtown. The Inner Loop costs more money to maintain than fill in. It slices the East End in half. Raising the Inner Loop would make land available for development, creating a boulevard lined with housing and retail instead of the parking lots and the backs of buildings.

The Inner Loop recently landed on the Freeways Without Futures list put together by the Congress for New Urbanism. Buffalo’s Route 5/Skyway and Syracuse’s I-81 are also on the list.

I often wonder what Corn Hill would be like had the city not taken a wrecking ball to a swath of the neighborhood to create Route 490. Urban planners now realize building highways straight through downtowns has consequences.

18 Responses to Trying Again on Inner Loop

  1. February 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm Carlos Mercado responds:

    Given that the portion of the Inner Loop the City wishes to fill-in carrys about one-half the daily traffic of East Avenue and cuts off neighborhoods immediately south of downtown, it is esy to see the advantages of removing this 50 year mistake and restoring the area to its pre-1960 land use configuation.

  2. they should use the federal money from the high speed rail rochester dose not need a high speed rail

  3. One of the the Inner Loop’s original objective was to divert traffic from the east, southeast and south around downtown to Kodak office tower and kodak park, thereby reducing congestion on downtown arterials and sidestreets.

    Not so much today. Just sayin.

  4. It is a shame, bordering on a crime that some of those great old buildings in Corn Hill were demolished for so little. Have you ever seen photos of the gorgeous old Plymouth Spiritualist Church before it was torn down?

    It wasn’t just for 490 though. That was the era of urban renewal and plenty of the road reworking and related projects were done to demolish buildings rather than vice versa. On the theory that if you tear down poor neighborhoods poverty and crime would disappear. It’s been tried since the late 19th Century without success. And yet I still see comments on all sorts of news stories that if we just demolish all the bad neighborhoods in the city it would solve our social problems.

  5. Corn Hill (Third Ward) was the go-to neighborhood for ROC’s early well-to-do mercantile classes who wanted ready carriage or walking access to Exchange Street, legal institutions and banks.

    Corn Hill was a hill surrounded by water. Early on, in most American cities, well-to-do folks always grabbed the high ground for their mansions. Why? Well, ap-cray flows down hill, that’s why.

    The south-side 490/Inner Loop section was necessary because they would not locate the I-90 on a path nearer downtown (generally the BHTL Rd. corridor) with a more north-south connector to downtown avoiding the RIT/Corn Hill tracts.

    Early inter-state decisions re ROC were absolute disasters.

  6. You don’t even need to fill in the whole thing if you start with new building construction at the basement/sub-basement levels. They can just start at the road grade and build up, filling in around the structure. Saves excavating costs.

  7. I think a lot of places are afraid to invest any money in our city. Look at what happened with the fast ferry. Look at all them money spent assessing the midtown project. Rochester is not good about coming through on ideas.

  8. Ben,

    Yes this particular boondoggle was Great Society Democrats, but the inclination to try to solve our urban problems with a wrecking ball and a bulldozer has a bi-partisan history of failure. Both liberals and conservatives have tried it at different times with different theoretical justifications and different methods. Just like eminent domain abuse.

    As far as the high ground is concerned you’re basically correct. In the early days of most American cities they were centered on water for economic reasons and the highest ground was the first to be settled and most valuable. Here’s a good set of photos that shows why


  9. er, Mike, sub’d housing, etc started under FDR, hiatus during WWII, Truman picked it up re GI housing crunch, speed forward to LBJ for the Big Show as a civil rights southerner.

    Not going to even mention the urban renewal/housing programs were lobbied mostly by allied condtruction unions, developer interests and bond-buyers like the Melons and Rockerfeller’s. Poverty was the excuse.

    Next we have Nixon. I was only one in the office when he had Haldelman send the infamous “impoundment telegram” that froze by executive action allocated monies for urban renewal project grants and subsidized housing grants and loans. he did it to over-ride a dem congress who wouldn’t budge on grant based funding for same.

    So, don’t try to tell me the Pubbies had their heart in urban disturbin. When the local GOP ran the City of ROC in a fluke 4 years from 1970 to 1973 they were just going thru the motions. Nixon’s Watergate fix delayed action ’til Carter got in and faked everyone out by canning the project contract grant approach to funding and going the community development multi-purpose grant process which diluted the monies over more turf and eligible smaller local municipalities, effectively giving us what we now have.

    Cute story: george Romney was given HUD under Nixon and came to ROC to tour our U.R. projects cuz we were 134th in nation for grants and 33rd for pop. He took a tour bus through the inner city target areas and was reported to never have looked out the window. We sat around at the Third Ward UR office on Edinburgh St. waiting to meet him. Nope, din’t have their hearts in it.

  10. I agree with you about Urban Renewal as a predominantly liberal folly. I was talking about the larger idea of demolition as a solution. That predates FDR, HUD, etc. Skid rows and individual buildings were being torn down by the government, or more often under government pressure by private owners, as far back as the 19th century throughout the country. Blocks and neighborhoods followed soon after. This was done by both muckraking progressives and conservatives. And the people calling for demolition in Rochester in the comments on news stories include liberals who want to use the land for various wasteful projects as well as conservatives who just want to demolish drug houses or bad blocks and don’t care what comes next. The idea that we can demolish buildings and the problems in those buildings will just disappear instead of moving to a new location is bigger than urban renewal. That is what is bi-partisan.

  11. $20M?! That’s chump change, for a project that will have such a huge and beneficial impact. Do the damn thing, already!

    I would use the dirt for filling the subway tunnel to fill the Inner Loop, instead.
    –Chris Maj, Mayoral Candidate, August 2005
    Source: Victory for Chill The Fill Rachel Barnhart, Reporter

    I have that quote in my old Chill The Fill PowerPoint presentation. That was great reporting, Rachel!

  12. Pingback: Tear ‘Em Down » The Rochesterian

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