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Daveography

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Written like an Architrivia article, but thought that sharing it as a discussion thread was more appropriate in this case. Feel free to adapt it as an article.

Back in the 1960s, the car was king and freeways were the way of the future for cities. Of course we don't see it that way anymore, but before we realized all of the downsides that car-focused design and neighbourhood-dividing freeways would have on our cities, many of them succumbed to the thinking of that era and carved themselves up to benefit the almighty car.

Some cities were lucky and dodged this bullet, but many of them still only narrowly. Edmonton was one such city; in 1969 it had commissioned the Metropolitan Edmonton Transportation Study (METS), which envisioned a freeway loop around the downtown core with connectors extending to all corners of the city.

overview.jpg


Detailed plans were made for the first stage, a north-south freeway cutting through the east side of downtown, connecting with a freeway to the west end of the city. The plan would have used the city's natural topography to its advantage, cutting the freeways through the river valley, and Mill Creek and MacKinnon ravines.

Stage1key2.jpg

Stage 1 Ultimate Plan

Stage 1 itself was divided into six sub-stages of development. Only the first of these ever saw the light of day, in the form of the James MacDonald Bridge and the interchange just to its east (helping to explain the seemingly bizarre and overbuilt design to those who are unfamiliar with this history):

Stage1-I-2.jpg

Stage 1 Sub-stage I, the only part of the plan that would be built

The plan saw huge opposition from residents in the neighbourhoods that were in the way of the roadways and interchanges, but it was really when the city decided to adopt and build an LRT line in anticipation of the 1978 Commonwealth Games that put METS to rest, signalling a shifting priority to more efficient transit systems over roadway construction and expansion.

ultimatestagekey.jpg

Ultimate METS Plan - A bullet dodged

One cannot help but appreciate the audaciousness of METS; though certainly visionary, it was a vision for another era. Many cities that realized similar visions are still paying the costs of them - in infrastructure maintenance, unmanageable traffic, health and air quality problems, segregated neighbourhoods, downtowns with limited accessibility and overbuilt parking, and more.

In abandoning the plan, Edmonton not only saved itself from those same costly drawbacks, but saved some of its most interesting neighbourhoods and some of its most beautiful natural areas and ravines.


MacKinnon Ravine, where the western freeway would have been

Sources:
http://albertaroads.homestead.com/edmonton/plans/ - Go here for many more detailed images of the freeway plans
http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/the-history-of-the-funding-of-edmontons-lrt
 

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Daveography

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Interesting tidbit in the Stage 1 - Sub-stage I image: you can see the original alignment of Mill Creek where it outflowed into the North Saskatchewan River, before the diversion was built. I would love to see it "daylighted" again.
 

cliffapotamus

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Finally got into my laptop from uni, which means i can share some photos i took from the METS report in Rutherford Library. I'll share what i have here for posterity. i believe the copy in Rutherford that i read was an early concept, because it did not get into costing or any real engineering beyond traffic volumes. It did speak at length about the conceptual basis for the program, the idea of downtown being a hub for all of North-Central Alberta, not just of Edmonton itself. The document i found was written by the Chicago-base consultants who designed the plan initially. The intro-preamble sections talked about how important it was to maintain access to downtown for rural residents, thus justifying building capacity for cars. it also had a disdain for public transit, telling the city 'buses will be able to use the freeways to move people around if the city so chooses' when local leaders asked how the system would integrate into Edmonton's existing public transit (which was concurrently developing it's 102 Ave subway plan, to become the Jasper Ave LRT). Funding was also a big question mark, (the report i read was fairly early i believe) but the response from the consultants was 'in the US, 90% of freeway construction is funded federally, with the rest coming from the state. We expect the Canadian government to do something similar', basically leaving all the intensive lobbying required to get funding up to civic leaders. I didn't take good enough notes of it all, so don't have enough actual quotes, but i remember that part of the report being a trip. just listening to these americans tell Edmonton that cars are the future and the US is doing it so we should too, it was wild.
Anyways, here's some pictures of the freeway routes proposed at the time:
(these would be the 'legs' coming off the central blue ring in the above posts)
UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_38e1.jpg
UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_38e3.jpg
UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_38e5.jpg
UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_38e1.jpgUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_38e3.jpgUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_38e5.jpg
UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_38e6.jpg
UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_38e1.jpgUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_38e3.jpgUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_38e5.jpgUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_38e6.jpg
 

cliffapotamus

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ALSO: i found some pictures of the '102 Ave Subway' I mentioned above. Again i took shitty notes (this research was for a sculpture project, so i was mainly looking for imagery and locations to pull topography from, the blah blah blah written bits of these reports were less interesting at the time) anyways, this report i remember less about, but i assume it was written in the late 160's perhaps very early 2970s, as it only shows the Whitemud between 149 street and fox Drive, and Terwillegar is nonexistent. The red lines are 'rapid transit' ie this newfangled LRT thing coming out of germany that was a subway sometimes and a streetcar at others.you can see how little has changed in terms of route corridors. Yes, that is the Henday outlining the city in some of these. a 50-year freeway project if there ever was one lol
UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32f7.jpg
UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32f9.jpg
UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32f6.jpg
UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_32f8.jpg
 

cliffapotamus

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I'm just SO happy this never went ahead.
AMEN TO THAT. I actually just biked through this area earlier today. the Macdonald Bridge really does stick out like a sore thumb when you think about it, it's height, width, and how it buggered up road and train access to the houses around it. it's not people scale, or even local-car-traffic scale. it was built for traffic moving at 50mph (80 kmh) and this inflated everything about it, making it less pleasant to be around than the nearby Low Level.
Also. the damn thing is starting to crumble! the beams and piers look okay (i'm not an engineer though) but the abutments have large chunks of concrete missing, exposed rebar, and evidence of older repairs which are themselves deteriorating. I mean, this is to be expected in our climate, but the cost of fixing all of this when the time comes will be huge, jsut for the one bridge. I can't even fathom what the cost of repairing/rehabilitating the whole METS system would be if it had been built. all that 1960's-1970's concrete all going bad at once. these freeways would have been such a liability.
 

ION

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I am still OBSESSED with this plan because of its scale and pomposity. It's practically Moses-esque... Glad it didn't happen however parts of the plan would have been nice to see. I.e. more free-flowing medium-speed parkways... River Valley Road for example is something to me that should have been upgraded to 4 lanes as far as Groat Road much like Memorial Drive in Calgary manages to be a major arterial/parkway link north of downtown. Still glad we can actually enjoy McKinnon and Mill Creek ravines especially since they offer fantastic skyline view corridors. I would like to see a River Valley tram network FINALLY built. There was a plan sometime in the early 1980's to create an entire tram network to link all the major river valley parks from Fort Edmonton to Riverdale and frankly that's one project that still needs to happen. Battery operated trams that recharge in 30-seconds at stations... China has them. The EU has them. Now it's time the Capital City Regional Park has them.... Clean, quiet, accessible for all people... Hawrelak Park during any major event proves that we need more and better options in the valley...
 

ION

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Also having said that, I'd love some Tesla Tube's running FAR below McKinnon and Mill Creek and around downtown in a loop in this sort of network allowing those with clean electric cars and compatible buses to use these... That or using the same Boring Company 12' tunnels to run conventional tube trains in them. Don't believe it's possible? Check out the dimensions of the London Deep Tube network. Almost all the network tunnels in use today are SMALLER than this number. So while Elon may hate people and conventional mass transit, his tunnelling tech could make it WAY more affordable for cities to drill large new networks for cents on the dollar of existing methods... I'd also skip using 3rd rail power for safety reasons and go with on-board battery electric trains that can be rapidly micro-burst charged while stopped at stations taking on passengers... Wuxi Trams in Nanjing use these chargers amongst others...
 

ION

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Also, a Saskatchewan Drive subway line? Yes please! I always thought that this alignment was one of the best options to connect downtown with the University especially since it would probably make several stops in Garneau/Old Strathcona/King Edward Park along the way. Plus it's oh-so-close to the under construction Muttart station... A quick connection up the hill to this station would make a lot of sense in the long run if you ask me...



Written like an Architrivia article, but thought that sharing it as a discussion thread was more appropriate in this case. Feel free to adapt it as an article.

Back in the 1960s, the car was king and freeways were the way of the future for cities. Of course we don't see it that way anymore, but before we realized all of the downsides that car-focused design and neighbourhood-dividing freeways would have on our cities, many of them succumbed to the thinking of that era and carved themselves up to benefit the almighty car.

Some cities were lucky and dodged this bullet, but many of them still only narrowly. Edmonton was one such city; in 1969 it had commissioned the Metropolitan Edmonton Transportation Study (METS), which envisioned a freeway loop around the downtown core with connectors extending to all corners of the city.

View attachment 76929

Detailed plans were made for the first stage, a north-south freeway cutting through the east side of downtown, connecting with a freeway to the west end of the city. The plan would have used the city's natural topography to its advantage, cutting the freeways through the river valley, and Mill Creek and MacKinnon ravines.

View attachment 76930
Stage 1 Ultimate Plan

Stage 1 itself was divided into six sub-stages of development. Only the first of these ever saw the light of day, in the form of the James MacDonald Bridge and the interchange just to its east (helping to explain the seemingly bizarre and overbuilt design to those who are unfamiliar with this history):

View attachment 76937
Stage 1 Sub-stage I, the only part of the plan that would be built

The plan saw huge opposition from residents in the neighbourhoods that were in the way of the roadways and interchanges, but it was really when the city decided to adopt and build an LRT line in anticipation of the 1978 Commonwealth Games that put METS to rest, signalling a shifting priority to more efficient transit systems over roadway construction and expansion.

View attachment 76938
Ultimate METS Plan - A bullet dodged

One cannot help but appreciate the audaciousness of METS; though certainly visionary, it was a vision for another era. Many cities that realized similar visions are still paying the costs of them - in infrastructure maintenance, unmanageable traffic, health and air quality problems, segregated neighbourhoods, downtowns with limited accessibility and overbuilt parking, and more.

In abandoning the plan, Edmonton not only saved itself from those same costly drawbacks, but saved some of its most interesting neighbourhoods and some of its most beautiful natural areas and ravines.


MacKinnon Ravine, where the western freeway would have been

Sources:
http://albertaroads.homestead.com/edmonton/plans/ - Go here for many more detailed images of the freeway plans
http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/the-history-of-the-funding-of-edmontons-lrt
 

Platinum107

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It's practically Moses-esque...

Huh? Ohh I get it, Moses-esque in the vein of the 7 Plagues of Egypt, with the 8th being this highway network! Yeeeah let's just say I'm quite happy with not having to cross over a couple of whitemud-style freeways whenever I walk or bike downtown or in the river valley, thank you very much.
 

ION

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Huh? Ohh I get it, Moses-esque in the vein of the 7 Plagues of Egypt, with the 8th being this highway network! Yeeeah let's just say I'm quite happy with not having to cross over a couple of whitemud-style freeways whenever I walk or bike downtown or in the river valley, thank you very much.
Or Robert Moses The NYC planner who practically tried to destroy much of modern NYC... Different Moses, same "God Complex"... ;-)
 

ChazYEG

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Or Robert Moses The NYC planner who practically tried to destroy much of modern NYC... Different Moses, same "God Complex"... ;-)
And I assure you, if you ever talk to a new yorker urbanist, he'll have a shiver sent down his spine just at the mention of this name
He should have his name taught right next to Hitler and Le Corbusier for their crimes against humanity!
 

ION

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I heard if you say his name three times in a dark mirror, he appears then sends you eviction papers and then the cops after you! Good World's Fair though... ;-)
 

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