I-40 craziness in Greensboro

I’m a transit nerd.  I like learning about roads, bridges, highways, trains, neighborhoods, and all sorts of elements of history of cities.  In Greensboro, there is a part of I-40 that is just ridiculous.  I-40, along with I-85, used to go through downtown Greensboro, through a section that they call Death Valley.  They decided to build a road that goes around the city instead of through it, called the Urban Loop, and they routed I-40 and I-85 around the city instead of through it.  They renamed the Death Valley route Business I-40 and Business I-85, and that was supposed to have been that.

Except that the people who lived around the Urban Loop complained about the noise that the two highways brought in.  This is out in the suburbs, so the people there have the money to complain.  After a couple of months, the NC DOT decided to route I-40 back through the Death Valley route, but leave I-85 out on its new route on the Urban Loop.  Now, part of this reasoning was pragmatic: without a real interstate on the Death Valley route, it lost all of its federal upkeep money.

But while the change back was happening, its led to some weird routage.  I first noticed this when I was driving to Virginia, and the I-40 route I took while going west went through Death Valley, and the I-40 route I took east went on the Urban Loop.  I didn’t know the names at the time, I was just really confused that the signs told me to take one route west and one route east.  They’ve been in the process of resigning basically even since I moved to North Carolina, and they’re supposed to be done round about now.  Its just an interesting process, and kinda weird that its taken it almost a year to change all of the signs to reroute I-40 back through downtown Greensboro.

Subways and pathways

Pathway in Hyde Park

This is a little pathway near my house in Cincinnati, Ohio. It connects two parallel streets, cutting through the middle of a large block. Until I looked at Google Maps today, I didn’t notice that it ends up directly in front of a high school, Clark Montessori. But Clark is a magnet school, drawing kids from all over the city. I don’t think too many of them are going to be walking to school. My other thought is that perhaps Clark was a local high school before it became a magnet school… but I haven’t been able to find anything about that yet.

I really like learning about the roads, bridges, and transit history of a city. I feel like it can tell you a lot about what the city was like, what its founders were thinking, what the people who built various roads were thinking. For example, there’s one road in Cincinnati, Duck Creek Road, which is now split into 4 or 5 unconnected parts because of the interstate. But if you drive on some of the chunks, you can get a glimpse of what the city, or at least some of its houses, looked like before the interstate was built. There’s also things like the abandoned subway that was never finished and the inclines that used to take people up the steep ridges that surround downtown.

One of my favorites is the subway. Where the subway was going to be built was originally a canal. When German immigrants moved to Cincinnati in the middle of the 19th century, they weren’t allowed to live in downtown because the Know-Nothings wouldn’t let them. Instead, they had to live on the other side of the canal. It became known as the Rhine River, and all the German immigrants lived over the Rhine, and thats why that neighborhood is called Over the Rhine. But after the canal was emptied, they decided to build a subway in it. But it ran out of money, and so they built a road on top of it. You can still get into the subway (not legally unless you’re on a tour) and you can see all the half built platforms.

I just think its an interesting bit of history about the city.