In the fall of 2014, construction on the Inner Loop East project will begin. If you’re not familiar, the Inner Loop East project is the proposed plan to fill in the inner loop from Monroe Ave to Charlotte street, creating a new two-way Union street, and a new neighborhood, in addition to a new business and residential district, and an extended Woodbury, and the elimination of a physical and cultural barrier. The project will take place over the next three years, which will definitely tie up traffic for the foreseeable future.
In my opinion this will do nothing to fix many of the problems that the city is facing, and may exacerbate them. One word consistently comes to my mind when I think of the Inner Loop East project, and that’s gentrification. It’s going create a glorified second Park Ave., bringing upscale developments, upscale housing, and upscale business, and will do very little, or nothing to help what is really wrong with the city, such as poverty, homelessness, and abandoned property.
There are huge amounts of abandoned property located on the west side of the city, and in center city, especially on Main Street. Though Union is being converted into a two way street, traffic will certainly experience significant delay, especially at the intersections of Broad and Union, East and Union, and Monroe and Union.
Many people see this as a positive move by the city, a plan to create jobs, and to stimulate local economic growth, but this is years down the road. What can be done as soon as possible to create new jobs? What can be done to beautify a large amount of the city, instead of this ⅔ of a mile stretch of road? Obviously nothing of importance. Nothing to do with west or center city, or the areas forsaken by industry.
$23,600,000 will be used towards this endeavor, $5,900,000 of the city’s money, and $17, 700, 00 of federal money acquired through the TIGER grant process. The TIGER grant (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) is a competitive process, with $1,500,000,000 competitively divided up between 52 projects. Rochester placed in the top 10% for the amount of money granted. The TIGER grant has been criticized by many financial analysts. Many believe that they’re solely divvied out based on political motivations. Many are disappointed that the TIGER isn’t being used on national projects, as originally intended such as a high speed rail system.
Some of the main supporters of the project are former Mayor Richards, Representative Slaughter, Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, Buckingham Properties, Christa Construction, Conifer, Flower City Development, Strong Museum of Play, University of Rochester, The Upper East End Business Association, ESL, the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Fest, Excellus, and Visit Rochester.
It’s projected that 11 construction jobs will be created for each million dollars invested into the project. It’s expected that between 1,840 to 3,680 long term jobs will be created post development. Exactly what will these jobs be? Service? City employment? Retail? Why aren’t jobs being created where they’re needed most? Why not build these things on Main Street, where many buildings sit unused, waiting to decay. Why not bring more business into center city, as there once was before. Those figures of course rely on private investment and managing, which is not completely reliable, as we learned from the Fast Ferry debacle.
The project does aim to cut down automobile accidents in this area, but in that they are slowing down the amount of time it takes to navigate through. Bike lanes are helpful, but what happens when bikers get off at East Ave, Monroe Ave., South Clinton Ave. to continue on their way to their destination.
Once the project is completed and developed in 2017, what will become of the rest of the inner loop that surrounds the rest of the city, which is also reaching the end of its usable life?
It still segregates the west side from center city and east side. How long will that take to convert? How much money can be drawn out of the taxpayers? How many jobs will be made? How many people will be forced to move?
As long as the city keeps going the way it’s going, trying to feign itself into a cultural hub while it’s people struggle and buildings crumble, things are going to change, and we’re going to end up more in the red than we are now, and no attempt in gentrification will make it seem alright. Measure needs to be taken to repair the entire city, not just it’s highly marketable areas. Affordable housing and business should be marketed too, not just to the highest bidder. It needs to be more practical than it is sugar coated.
Though my words are in vain, I’m urging some deep thought about what the city is doing to itself. Consider their motives, and become more aware of the potential consequences and how their carryings and dealings affect you in your day to day or long term life.