Monday, January 16, 2012

Making the best of what we've got - a study from Vienna

Vienna is a lovely city. It has ample mass transit, that true European urban feel, and it's even somewhat affordable by European standards. However, the overhead lines of the U6 subway train are reminiscent of St. Louis' own I-70 through downtown. These aboveground train lines create a barrier between the two sides of the Wiener G├╝rtel, one of Vienna's main ring roads, and of itself a very busy street. This is right through the center of some densely populated areas,


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Overall, it's pretty daunting. Several lanes of roads, a foreboding overpass...but wait, check out the pedestrian experience:


To the left is the train overpass. The asphalt area is for pedestrians/bikes, then green space, then finally a road.

While this could be a disaster, with views of empty plazas and sheer stone, Vienna has done a remarkable job activating the space:


Guertel Braeu - a brewery build underneath the subway line
Another bar, with sidewalk seating. Quite a large sidewalk between the tracks and the road.
Oh, and this part is just getting creative. Perhaps one of these under I-70, with a little rejigging - broaden the property tax base, plus give people one of the food options they really want downtown?




Yes, that's a McDonalds. That's a drive thru. It goes underneath the subway lanes. It's a brilliant way to activate the space that otherwise would just be a pass through for cars, plus it's easily walkable to get into the McDonalds.


While I certainly prefer the destruction of the I-70 overhead lanes and replacement with an at-grade boulevard - if MoDOT and other organizations are unwilling to do so, why not get creative and make the best of what we've got?



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