Planning Expert Questions Opportunities in "Opportunity Corridor"

Construction on Phase 1 of Opportunity Corridor; photo by Annie Wu

The three and a half mile-long route connecting the end of I-490 at East 55th with University Circle has been moving forward since building season began back in March.  So far the $330 million dollar project is on time and the widening of East 105th Street between Quincy and Cedar is expected be finished before winter. 

But Jeff Speck, author of “Walkable City” is concerned the so called “Opportunity Corridor” won’t live up to its name.  He’s the keynote speaker Wednesday at a day-long symposium for urban planners.  Speck says the road is likely to attract more drivers and increase rather than ease traffic congestion.  Plus, he says the corridor is designed as if it were a highway. "If you do not have narrow lanes, parallel parking and non-swoopy streets -- not to mention street trees and a bunch of other stuff -- this will not generate downtown walkable environments in any of the communities that it goes through."

Supporters of the road emphasize it’s not a highway.  A spokesperson for the Opportunity Corridor Partnership says it’ll be a 35 mile per hour road with a protected bike lane and sidewalk, plus stop lights and intersections.  And she says the group is working to attract businesses to the neighborhood – such as food processing companies -- that could provide jobs for local residents. 

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