Pulling down Interstate 83 and turning it into a boulevard may help with the revitalization of Old Town Mall, but it isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.
Brenda McKenzie, president and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corp., said although the idea was included in plans put together about a decade ago to revitalize the historic East Baltimore shopping district, it’s not part of the current efforts to breathe new life into the site.
“Obviously we’re open to creative thoughts, [pulling down the Jones Falls Expressway] from a financial perspective, might be a bigger lift then were able to do at this point in time,” McKenzie said. “But certainly do welcome creativity in figuring out how best to activate Old Town.”
Al Barry, owner of land use consultation firm AB Associates and a former assistant planning director for the city, previously told The Daily Record that pulling down the elevated highway would help in revitalizing the Old Town Mall.
In fact he argued pulling down the highway may be necessary because of money.
“At some point, the city is going to have to face that fact and begin some strategic planning as to when the expressway should come down, because at some point it has to come down because they can’t afford to rebuild it,” Barry said earlier in April.
Throughout the world cities have started to replace urban highways with more pedestrian and bicycle friendly boulevards that better link portions of cities that highways can isolate from one another.
The Atlantic Cities, in a post last week, detailed how such diverse urban areas as Seoul, South Korea and Milwaukee have started to remove highways in the city.