Tuesday, September 1, 2009

History of I-485

Via Thomas Wheatley, there is a comprehensive history of the original I-485 fight on the Inman Park Neighborhood Association web site. The PDF was originally put out by the Morningside-Lenox Park Neighborhood Association in 2003.

Wheatley's article also include a letter from the Inman Park Neighborhood Association president to Oxendine that is worth reading. The end of the letter is, for me, the bottom line.
These Atlanta neighborhoods, including Inman Park, most soundly defeated this highway proposal decades ago, at a time when they had little organization and little resources. Today, we are highly organized and closely networked. We have neighbors and friends in many high places, and we have a lot of money, set aside specifically to protect ourselves against these kinds of proposals.
This basically sums it up - I'd like to see Oxendine try. Really. The entire east side of the city would go into primal-scream mode. The original I-485 fight, along with the subsequent Stone Mountain Freeway fight, were the catalyst for urban renewal in Atlanta. Beyond just not wanting a freeway through our neighborhoods, the fights have become even more important as a sort of local mythology.

Consider the ferocity with which folks fought against Wayne Mason, and that was for a relatively minor issue. I have no doubt that the intown neighborhoods would use every lever at their disposal, including:
  • a life time of support for John Lewis
  • a state House and Senate delegation with years of service and experience (and chits)
  • a sizable amount of disposable income useful for political donations (beyond what the neighborhood organizations have at their disposal for legal fights, etc.)
  • the made-for-the-media story line of "neighborhood fights the big bad road builders"
  • connections and often executive-level employment at Atlanta's major companies
I have little confidence that Oxendine could get any sort of bill through the legislature that would allow this to happen - if the entire Atlanta delegation didn't completely flip out I'd be surprised (and it would be legislative malpractice if they didn't).

I highly doubt that Oxendine gave this idea more than a minimal amount of thought. Not that he really gives a crap about pissing off intown neighborhoods. It is just that this is just an idea for him to put out there to say, "hey, I have transportation ideas." If he got elected, he'd never want to spend political capital on this fight. I doubt he has considered what it'd take to get such a road built. This will never happen. That doesn't make it less insulting or threatening.

That is perhaps the best way to view this proposal, as a threat to a way of life in the most drastic way possible. It isn't just threatening the symbols of that way of life, it is threatening to dig up and pave over the actual real estate that makes up a community. Auburn Avenue has never recovered from the connector getting put right though it. Can you expect Atlanta, from Morningside down to Reynoldstown and East Atlanta, to not freak out? Oxendine may as well just spit in my face.

1 comment:

  1. There in no cure for the connector. Mentioning it from time to time has caused a lot of head explosions over a lot of years.

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