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Author Topic: Highway aesthetics  (Read 814 times)

hbelkins

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Highway aesthetics
« on: August 16, 2019, 02:35:47 PM »

https://www.wesh.com/article/i-4-ultimate-art-endowment-central-florida/28687694?fbclid=IwAR1QVHDl5kBYQE2F5vy1n6q63KkAbZl8gSmSLCOoyINajMSFVulUx63gilk

I sparked a little discussion on the Freewayjim Facebook group by saying I think this is a waste of taxpayer dollars. $1.5 million could be better spent, in my opinion, to replace/rehab substandard bridges or resurface bad pavement. Especially since transportation agencies are saying they need money and are pushing for an increase in gas tax.

I'm more worried about functionality than appearance when it comes to building roads.
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kphoger

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2019, 03:13:28 PM »

I appreciate it that Wichita is still adding textural art on its Kellogg overpasses, even though they've gotten flak for it in the past.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2019, 08:55:52 PM »

The Phoenix area freeways have a lot of visual design flair that I always appreciated.  The landscaping was always nice but I really liked the designs of some of the overpasses and sound barriers.  The problem with most modern highways and particularly the early Interstate System was that much of it was built at the height of cookie cutter Brutalism design aesthetics that make them a bore to look at.  Some of the new designs coming out, especially bridge work are really a nice change of pace.  A little extra money spent on making something that has a stand out look and design really help elevate the character of a road IMO. 

A good example of how aesthetics can elevate the perception of a roadway is the Arroyo Seco Parkway.  Every facet of that freeway had some sort of design element that had some thought put into it on how to make it stand out.  Even mundane things like overpasses stand out to the eye.  Granted the design is incredibly outdated for traffic flow but the aesthetics make the Arroyo Seco a classic just to marvel at how it looks. 
« Last Edit: August 16, 2019, 09:00:16 PM by Max Rockatansky »
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Brian556

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2019, 09:00:18 PM »

https://www.wesh.com/article/i-4-ultimate-art-endowment-central-florida/28687694?fbclid=IwAR1QVHDl5kBYQE2F5vy1n6q63KkAbZl8gSmSLCOoyINajMSFVulUx63gilk

I sparked a little discussion on the Freewayjim Facebook group by saying I think this is a waste of taxpayer dollars. $1.5 million could be better spent, in my opinion, to replace/rehab substandard bridges or resurface bad pavement. Especially since transportation agencies are saying they need money and are pushing for an increase in gas tax.

I'm more worried about functionality than appearance when it comes to building roads.

Generally, I agree. What I hate around here, on city streets is that they put landscaping ahead of safety. Bushes block the view in lots of places.

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1995hoo

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2019, 10:45:14 AM »

I've always liked the bridge supports at the junction of I-70 and I-75 in Dayton: https://goo.gl/maps/z56Ub281dLnUCduX9   In a similar vein, I like the blue trim on the overpasses at Exit 2X on Florida's Turnpike. Clicking back through the old Street View images there confirms they used to have one bridge trimmed in blue and the other in coral, this because those are the Miami Dolphins' uniform colors and the exit serves their stadium (the stadium whose name seemingly changes every other week): https://goo.gl/maps/jGupuwK7yhZKCvPh6

The Intercounty Connector in Maryland was designed in a way that gives it a little more of a "parkway" type of feel. I think a major reason for it is the brown gantries for signs and toll-collection points, as they look far less "industrial" than the standard gantries we see on most highways: https://goo.gl/maps/YV77S8j9xLCZZhmC7  (Compare those to this "box" style gantry that seems to be the new standard in Northern Virginia: https://goo.gl/maps/Lw9dzRoqPsZ1kmBa6  <— If you look in the background of that Street View image, you can see the style that used to be the norm in Northern Virginia. It still looks "industrial" compared to the ICC, but I think the box style looks more "industrial" for some reason I can't really explain.)

I always thought the brick soundwalls on the Beltline around Raleigh looked nice: https://goo.gl/maps/qeud1crHgNq2NN369  That's especially true when compared to the ugly plasticky-looking things I grew up seeing (most of these are gradually being replaced with nicer-looking ones like the one seen on the other side of the road to the left in the Street View image): https://goo.gl/maps/t1TomY9S1RTQRaPF8



.... What I hate around here, on city streets is that they put landscaping ahead of safety. Bushes block the view in lots of places.

That is a massive problem at the shopping center nearest to where we live: https://goo.gl/maps/oshowknoCFkCsriJ6   In that Street View image, the bushes are a lot smaller than they are now. They make it very difficult to see when you're trying to nose out of the drive lane, and that problem is compounded by it naturally being an area with high pedestrian traffic (especially right in front of the grocery store doors) and there being too many people who drive too fast down the lane in front of the store.
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skluth

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2019, 12:43:45 PM »

There is a lot to be said for highway aesthetics. They add interest to the road and break up the monotony for many drivers. Whether it's the art deco flourishes on the Arroyo Seco or the patterned concrete along CA 91 through Riverside, it's a little something that helps me to appreciate the highway a bit more. For the amount typically spent, it seems like there's a lot of visual benefit added.  I would much rather see an highway that's more than just functional than this.

I concur with those who have issues with excess vegetation. I think this is more often private business, including undeveloped properties, than government landscaping. I know I've dealt with several idiots coming out of my local Ralph's parking lot whose vision is impaired by both the landscaping and shopping center sign at the entrance.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2019, 01:52:42 PM »

There is a lot to be said for highway aesthetics. They add interest to the road and break up the monotony for many drivers. Whether it's the art deco flourishes on the Arroyo Seco or the patterned concrete along CA 91 through Riverside, it's a little something that helps me to appreciate the highway a bit more. For the amount typically spent, it seems like there's a lot of visual benefit added.  I would much rather see an highway that's more than just functional than this.



I would argue the utilitarian look of a road, especially on a freeway makes it attractive for vandalism or garage dumping.  Pretty much anything that looks like it isn’t maintained (at least visually) tends to draw a seedy element to it. 

thspfc

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2019, 08:46:25 AM »

Everything that has been rebuilt in Milwaukee since the Marquette interchange project has cool designs and stuff on overpasses. I agree that the money could be better spent but I don’t mind the effort to make the roads nice.
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TEG24601

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2019, 12:11:37 PM »

Honestly, it is a drop in the bucket, compared to the actual construction, and helps to make the roadways more interesting and less brutal... I'm all for it.
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hbelkins

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2019, 07:46:15 PM »

Honestly, it is a drop in the bucket, compared to the actual construction...

This is the argument I don't get. Maybe $1.5 million is chump change -- Jim Georges called it "a rounding error" on the Freewayjim discussion -- for that project, but the money can go a long way elsewhere, and make some real improvements.

When we have highway agencies saying they don't have the money to keep existing roads and bridges in good repair and claiming they need to raise taxes, which are going to hit me in the wallet, I get a bit irked when they spend money that don't provide a real, tangible benefit to taxpayers and travelers.
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MNHighwayMan

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2019, 07:49:55 PM »

When we have highway agencies saying they don't have the money to keep existing roads and bridges in good repair and claiming they need to raise taxes, which are going to hit me in the wallet, I get a bit irked when they spend money that don't provide a real, tangible benefit to taxpayers and travelers.

I appreciate the effort to make roads look nice. That is a tangible benefit.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2019, 07:59:33 PM »

When we have highway agencies saying they don't have the money to keep existing roads and bridges in good repair and claiming they need to raise taxes, which are going to hit me in the wallet, I get a bit irked when they spend money that don't provide a real, tangible benefit to taxpayers and travelers.

I appreciate the effort to make roads look nice. That is a tangible benefit.

And I’d argue that the Broken Windows theory probably applies as well.  You make something look nice and like it’s well care for it inherently deters vandalism or things like people dumping trash.  It would be hard to show an ROI on something like that but I would imagine in a lot of projects the investment of money would wash eventually. 

kphoger

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2019, 02:17:10 PM »


When we have highway agencies saying they don't have the money to keep existing roads and bridges in good repair and claiming they need to raise taxes, which are going to hit me in the wallet, I get a bit irked when they spend money that don't provide a real, tangible benefit to taxpayers and travelers.

I appreciate the effort to make roads look nice. That is a tangible benefit.

I'd call that an intangible benefit.
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Bruce

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2019, 12:38:05 AM »

Artwork can also deter graffiti, especially ugly tagging, which is opportunistic and is easier done on a blank canvas. The cost of cleaning off graffiti every few months would quickly exceed any art budget.

...But $1.5M for murals seem a little overpriced. For a third of the cost, we got kissing fighter jets in our light rail station (and that's after the cost inflation for any West Coast project).

MNHighwayMan

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2019, 09:35:12 AM »

They look like pink dildos with wings.
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webny99

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2019, 07:20:08 PM »

I really like it when the street name of an overpass is posted on the bridge itself as part of the design, rather than on a supplementary LGS.

Some examples of this can be found on I-90 near Avon, OH, and the Keystone Pkwy in Carmel, IN.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2019, 07:25:54 PM by webny99 »
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Bruce

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2019, 08:58:59 PM »

They look like pink dildos with wings.

Kind of the point, considering the neighborhood.

Roadsguy

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2019, 09:55:56 AM »

[Cries in PennDOT]
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kennyshark

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Re: Highway aesthetics
« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2019, 12:56:29 PM »

I always like to see something aesthetically-pleasing on highways-adds some local flavor as well.

The two things that come to mind are:

1. The flora in the median on I-440 in Raleigh.
2. The Ontario provincial logo on Ontario Highway 400 overpasses.
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