86’ing heedless repetition.


“If a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves…There’s so much talk about the system. And so little understanding.”

-Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Perhaps it’s a bit early in the “adjustment” period, but the above quote shared by reader Josh and a neighbor’s mention of how pleasant New Albany’s downtown can be without the noise of interstate traffic have me (re)thinking.

Let’s suppose the Sherman Minton Bridge needs replacement. The current projected cost of a new East End Bridge sans tunnel and other approaches is $406 million. One assumes a new Sherman Minton might come with a similar price tag. That’s a lot. Given that level of expenditure, would merely replicating an interstate bridge really be the best investment of those dollars?

Haven’t a lot of our issues in terms of urban devaluation and decay ridden shotgun on the destruction of Scribner Park and the insertion of an interstate into our downtown street grid and lives? The city’s oft-referenced 20th century heyday was an interstate free affair.

Like Steve Wiser’s better cross-river plan (PDF) in response to the Ohio River Bridges Project, could we be better served by two local access New Albany bridges, transit options, and park and rides on the perimeter and, like 8664, the removal of the Great Wall of the West End? Aren’t a lot of the points we’ve all made about the downtown portion of the Bridges Project in general as true for New Albany specifically? That our neighborhood streets have become cut through highways and both our green and building spaces mostly unused surface parking might provide a clue.

Before we get too caught up in partisan bickering over paying for it, it may be a good idea to consider what we actually want.