Streets are one of the most fundamental aspects of building a city. So says Steve Waldon, a Washington University student who has tackled the question of where, why and how our city’s “street system has been voluntarily dissected to create introspective neighborhoods.”
Steve has methodically categorized the time and type of street barricades erected, providing comprehensive maps of closed streets in the city. He considers that cities may have to bend to accommodate new residents with “suburban concepts” in order to regain population and he finds this view echoed by at least one city alderman.
In all, Steve finds that there are 262 streets in our city that were once contiguous that now have barricades. Of course three-term mayor Vince Schoemehl, current President of Grand Center Inc., is widely recognized has having introduced many barricades, the “Schoemehl pots”, but closures continue to be requested by city residents who may find a sympathetic ear in their alderman.
Street closures require an official ordinance approved by the Board of Alderman, but it appears that while just a small number of residents can successfully petition for a street closure, reversing the closure may be next to impossible. In fact removal may require “a new traffic plan that creates a neighborhood-wide consensus.”
The whole paper is a quick read and there are excellent maps for the visually inclined among you. What do you think? Are the barricades necessary to create at the appearance of safety and thus lure more residents into the city? Are these temporary barricades likely to remain for decades to come? What would a successful barricade removal effort look like?