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Posts from the "Rochester" Category

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Talking Headways Podcast: Escobar’s Escalator

Did you go to the World Urban Forum in Medellín, Colombia, last week? Neither did your hosts Jeff Wood and I, but we sure found a lot to say about it anyway on this week’s Talking Headways podcast. Medellín’s remarkable urban transformation — undertaken in the midst of war — has gotten a lot of well-deserved attention lately for making the city’s transportation infrastructure more equitable.

But first, we talked to our very own Angie Schmitt about the Parking Madness tournament. Did she know Rochester was a winner from the moment she laid eyes on that stunning parking crater? You’ll have to listen to find out.

And finally we turn to Dallas, where local activists are pressuring officials to tear down a 1.4-mile stretch of I-345 to make room for 245 acres of new development downtown. If it happens, it would be a tremendous win for smart urban development over Eisenhower-era car-centrism.

The other big news this week is that Talking Headways podcast is now available on Stitcher! So if you’re not an iTunes person, you’ve got a way to subscribe. But if you are an iTunes person, by all means! Or you can follow the RSS feed. And as always, the comments section is wide open for all the witty remarks we should have made but didn’t think to.

Oh, and despite the fact that we said, “See you next week” at the end out of habit, Jeff will be traveling so we actually won’t be taping a podcast next week. So take that opportunity to catch up on any episodes you’ve missed, and we’ll see you in two weeks.

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Rochester Wins 2014 Parking Madness Title and Claims the Golden Crater

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An asphalt scar in Rochester, New York, has triumphed over 15 of the world’s worst parking craters to become the Parking Madness 2014 champion.

It was a surprising run. Who would have guessed a couple of weeks ago that this scrappy upstart would prevail over some of the sprawliest, most highway-marred urban spaces in North America? But a devout group of locals, recognizing the advocacy potential, helped push Rochester past Miami, and then Detroit, and then Kansas City, and finally Jacksonville, all the way to the Golden Crater. Quite the Cinderella story.

When we closed voting at 2 p.m. Eastern time today, Rochester was several lengths ahead of Jacksonville, leading 611 to 165. The Rochester parking crater joins last year’s winner, downtown Tulsa, in the annals of Parking Madness infamy.

Here’s the crater that swept to victory:

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Kansas City may have had a bigger crater. Detroit’s may have been emptier. But the Rochester crater packed an extra wallop because we also got to see what was lost:

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It’s Rochester vs. Jacksonville in the Parking Madness Championship!

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Forget Huskies vs. Wildcats — today is all about parking crater vs. parking crater.

Through 14 matches pitting some of the most hideous parking expanses in the world against each other, two cities are still standing: Rochester and Jacksonville.

These are the worst of the worst downtown asphalt scars. But only one city can claim the Golden Crater, and the teachable moment that comes with it. Now it’s up to Streetsblog readers to choose this year’s champion.

Let’s look at Rochester first:

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Parking Madness Final Four: Kansas City vs. Rochester

The hunt for the worst parking crater on earth nears its epic conclusion with the second Final Four match of Parking Madness.

Today’s matchup features a formidable entry from Kansas City and the upstart parking crater from Rochester, New York, which knocked out Detroit in the previous round. The winner will take on Jacksonville tomorrow for a shot at the Golden Crater and eternal parking crater disgrace (but a great local advocacy opportunity).

Which city has made a greater mess of its downtown with excess surface parking?

First up, Kansas City:

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This image was marked up and submitted by local advocate Emily Catherine. The area isn’t so much a solitary crater as a pockmarked asphalt wilderness.

They call this the city’s Financial District, but it’s hard to pick out any distinguishing characteristics. That’s the thing about parking craters — after a while all these places start to look the same.

Now on to Rochester, the Cinderella of the 2014 Parking Madness bracket.

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Parking Madness Elite Eight: Rochester vs. Detroit

The last spot in the 2014 Parking Madness Final Four is at stake today, as Rochester faces off against Detroit.

The pictures of these two places, below, really speak for themselves. So without further ado, we’ll leave it up to you guys to tell us which city has the worst parking crater.

Here’s Rochester:

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This soulless, unlovable area, reports submitter Matthew Denker, used to be the town square for Rochester, where the annual Christmas tree was raised. That was before the Inner Loop freeway came along and decimated the place.

Can Detroit beat that?

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Parking Madness: Rochester vs. Miami

We’re seeing all sorts of parking craters as the 2014 Parking Madness tournament rolls on: pockmarked craters, endless abysses, deep caverns. Excess parking in cities takes many forms. And so we ask you to help us judge which is the worst, using the only method that can be applied consistently across all parking craters — online polling.

Up today, we have a wintry northeastern burgh and a sunny Florida metropolis: It’s Rochester vs. Miami.

Let’s start off with Rochester:

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Submitter Matthew Denker describes the empty heart of this grotesque parking cluster: ”It’s an intersection with surface parking at all 4 corners. There is literally no reason to have a road here when it’s just a sea of parking. Even better (worse) you can see a massive parking garage on the left edge on the same block, and if you move just a hair north, you can see a park that was cut in half by a highway. And of course the area used to be the main square of Rochester and where the town Christmas tree was raised.”

Interestingly, Rochester recently received some funds to fill in portions of the Inner Loop highway, shown at the very top. Unfortunately, it’s not this part of town that will see the improvement, says Denker.

Now, on to Miami:

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Will the Feds Support Rochester’s Downtown Highway Teardown?

Rochester's sunken Inner Loop Expressway completely encircles downtown. Now the city is poised to remove a portion of it. Image: Innovation Trail

It’s been called a “noose around the neck of downtown.” The Inner Loop in Rochester, New York — a regrettable 1960s-era sunken highway — completely encircles the city’s downtown, forming a wall between residential neighborhoods and the central business district.

The road is unsightly and impassable on foot, a huge barrier to walkability. And it doesn’t even see that much traffic: Some sections of the road carry less than 7,000 vehicles per day, a volume that could be easily supported by a regular, two-lane road.

One rendering of the proposed surface street to replace the Inner Loop East. Image: City of Rochester

The current city leadership is firmly committed to a $24 million plan to fill in and replace a stretch of the road called the Inner Loop East — about two-thirds of a mile — with an at-grade city street. It would open nine acres of city land to mixed-use, walkable development. The plan would improve safety and help support active transportation, officials say. The City Council voted last year to allocate $6 million in local funds for the project.

All Rochester needs now is federal matching funds, but that has proven difficult to accomplish. The city has twice tried, and failed, to win federal TIGER funds for the project. Rochester recently submitted its third TIGER grant application, seeking $18 million, and the city has Senator Chuck Schumer on their side, according to the Rochester Business Journal. Schumer recently met with new Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to try to persuade him that Rochester deserves the grant.

Meanwhile, the city is moving to finalize the design portion of the plan. Some versions even call for a two-way protected bike lane on the new surface street. If the funding comes through in the next few months, the demolition and reconstruction could begin as soon as next fall, the Business Journal reports.

Mayor Thomas Richards told the Business Journal that the highway removal could give this shrinking industrial city a much-needed boost.

“This project will benefit the entire city,” he said. “We are building a city that encourages walking, biking and enjoying the outdoor environment. Replacing this section of the Inner Loop will demonstrate the city’s commitment to fostering quality of life here in Rochester.”