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Old MacDonald Had a Freeway

10:25 AM PST on November 17, 2009

11_17_09_urban_insites.jpgImage from The Fletcher Studio's presentation to Sci-Arc via Urban Insights

I usually don't pull story ideas directly from The Metro Library's daily headlines page, but this one was just too good to pass up.

Urban Insights L.A. reports on Other New Urbanisms, a symposium held last week by the Southern California Institute's School of Architecture's (SCI-Arc) ”New Infrastructure: Innovative Transit Solutions for LA” design competition.  Urban Insights focuses on the second place winner in the contest, who proposed building agricultural villages along freeway embankmnets throughout Southern California.

The Fletcher Studio, which won second place, proposed urbanagricultural villages that would convert freeway embankments intoterraced hillsides. Affiliated bungalow housing would be builtalongside. These developments would be a new source of “green” jobs,employing farmers on a rotating, seasonal basis. Fletcher calculatedthat along LA’s 527 miles of freeway, there are approximately 960 acresof largely unused land that could be reclaimed as a productivelandscape.

Predictably, many on the panel scoffed at the thought of Caltrans giving up that much space.  Unspoken in the article, and perhaps in the panel, is that if freeway embankments became regional job centers it would be a lot harder, politically, for Caltrans to continue its destructive attempts to widen first and ask questions later.  But in the same way that cyclists are no longer focusing their reform efforts at LADOT and have moved on to elected leaders; perhaps the target audience for this idea shouldn't be bureaucrats at Caltrans but the supposedly Green Governor to whom they report.

Oh, and Urban Insights, welcome to our blogroll.

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