Posted by: Barrak Al-Babtain | March 27, 2010

Taking Over Freeways

This is an urban renewal proposal in Los Angeles that, although at a much grander scale, is similar to what we want for SAM Street. The idea is to literally cover a portion of sunken freeway with a large park.

“Plans to develop four so-called freeway cap parks have recently been announced in Los Angeles. The cap concept, which essentially covers a portion of a freeway with a planted concrete lid, has gained popularity in the last decade as an urban “greening” solution. The multibillion-dollar projects are meant to knit together previously disparate neighborhoods, theoretically creating cohesion and larger-scale community gathering places without having to destroy or displace existing infrastructures.”

Think of this as the city healing itself from a painful wound (the freeway) to remake the skin of the city. The flow would become uninterrupted, creating a seamless urban fabric that is green, clean and triggers a virtuous cycle of healthy urban living.

The only way this would work is through a public-private partnership, and this diagram shows how the project could be funded:

The properties in pink will be developed by the people that invest in the infrastructure. This would give the private sector ‘skin in the game’ and get them to promote and sustain the project indefinitely. This is a model that’s being used in Kuwait for the new Metro proposals (as far as I know), meaning that whoever invests in the project would get to develop the, all of a sudden, very desirable real estate adjacent to the station (and the station itself).

People are finally beginning to understand the damage being done to our lives by insisting on a car-only lifestyle; having our transportation system and urban design be generated by automobile patterns and parking needs. We can’t sustain this, not just because of the damage to the environment (again, I really don’t care about that) but because it has had a deep influence on society. Being fully dependent on a car has profoundly damaged the Kuwaiti psyche. Kuwait, the land of scorching heat, has become a city of asphalt and concrete. We have blindly built ourselves a frying pan to live on and now hide in giant refrigerators.

This project in LA is an example of how we can turn the corner and chart a new course for our city. I’m not suggesting we build parks over the 5th ring road, but I want us to start thinking big in terms of how we can create a pleasant and livable city. It’s going to take a lot of effort and time and money, because we’ve been ignorant of our actions for so long, but we can change.

Yes, we can.

-Edit: A few more images:


Responses

  1. Greening it a bit would be great for us and our environment! We need them to take care of it too! Its getting ridiculous!

    We honestly have too many contracts going to people who aren’t fulfilling it and our greenery just looks disastrous! Even look at Bayan Palace, that is just really sad, it looks like something you paid cheaply for from the Mashatil! When you see Abu Dhabi or Dubai, now thats bright green and it even feels healthy!

  2. […] Short of drastically altering the highways system of Kuwait, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious way of stitching back the neighborhood fabric of Kuwait without building more bridges. An interesting mega solution that might work for parts of the First Ring Road and other sunken highways is to extend a park over them so that the highway becomes a tunnel and the new land above it links the two banks of the highway together, like what is being done in Los Angeles. […]

  3. […] isn’t pie in the sky stuff. It’s been done in Los Angeles and is so successful that it’s being replicated in other cities. A vibrant city is one that […]

  4. What are the town planning authorities doing in terms of community development (apart from malls) where the people can get together alongwith their children for some fun or a casual stroll down the road.
    The car culture is the major roadblock to the minds of these planners, I think. There should be cap on the no. of new cars allowed in Kuwait.


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