On Sep 2, 2005, at 5:03 PM, J.H. Crawford wrote:
> for some images of high ground near New Orleans.
> "High" in this case is relative, but I think, without
> having actual data, that it's high enough.
I compared the NASA images linked to with images from Google maps.
There are several interesting observations to be made that could
point to an initial site for a carfree city proposal.
Right on the highest ground at the north end of the lake, that is to
say what doesn't get inundated at 9 m flooding, you find the
apparent suburbs (judging from their street patterns) of Mandeville
and Madisonville, the former built right where US-190 goes south to
New Orleans as the Pontchartrain Causeway. Look them up using Google
maps, and you'll see that you don't have a Tabula Rasa to build on
here, but rather sprawled out (and probably somewhat affluent too,
from the looks of the highest resolution zoom, especially with the
space taken up by the Beau Chene Golf and Racquet Club). Farther
north along the I-190, you have Covington and Abita Springs, i.e.
more suburbia. One thing that is quite notable is that almost all the
sprawl is built above/north of the 9 m flood line....
If New Orleans were relocated to this area, there would have to be an
awful lot of infill and remaking of the street patterns to make a
sufficiently dense city. I suspect there would be a lot of resistance
here to any such thing happening. On the other hand, though these
people probably have seen only relatively minor damage to their
neighborhoods compared to what New Orleans has gone through, I
suspect a pretty large chunk of this suburban population no longer
have jobs to commute to down south over the next several months, *at
the very least*. Perhaps a New Orleans North could be installed here
partially by some densification and infill, especially around the
interchanges and shopping malls, providing there is sufficient will
to replace highway/automobile transit (even if not 100 per cent) with
a rail-based transit system and high density mixed-use communities
built up in these areas.
Perhaps something like this could be done in the already built-up
area, while the area just to its east (greener coloured on the Google
satellite image) could in fact see a carfree N. O. North development
built from scratch. This area, north and northeast of Fontainebleau
State Park, is almost entirely rural. It is an irregular
quadrilateral between 6 and 10 miles on a side, passed through by
I-12 near its southern edge and a north-south railway on its eastern
edge. Two smaller state highways, numbers 1038 and 434, move north
from the I-12 to meet the east-west highway 36 near the centre of the
As you can see, this area, at least at first glance, looks like a
pretty good candidate site for building a carfree city, right down to
its overall dimensions.
Now, if you want to move a substantial portion of the population of
New Orleans away from the now flooded areas and set them up on the
high ground to the north of the lake, you either have to sprawl
everything surrounding the existing suburbs all to hell, or you have
the choice of building a dense, carfree, rail transit-centred city in
this agricultural area that still leaves *most* of the farmland
around it untouched. The suburbanites to the west (and to the
southeast in Slidell and Pearl River) would likely find it quite
convenient and enjoyable to commute into the new city by rail lines
following I-12 and highway 36. (The inhabitants of the new suburbs
being built to the south of I-12 should be considered too in a
carfree plan.) Since the site is adjacent to Fontainebleau State
Park, we could perhaps give it the provisional moniker, if a carfree
proposal is put forward, of Fontainebleau City (or Ecocity), rather
than New Orleans North.
If we put forward a proposal for a carfree development on the above
site, which seems to be the closest to the original New Orleans, I'm
sure that one attractive argument would be how much cheaper (and more
sustainable) a carfree city on this site would be than either
reconstructing the old city anew or just building car-centred sprawl
all over the countryside to the north of Lake Pontchartrain. Of
course, there are all the other arguments that can be made here as
Googling for images of the area, in particular Fontainebleau State
Park, I came across one page of pictures hosted by the Priorities
Institute in Colorado, who are supporters of carfree cities among
other ecologically sustainable practices:
They are just one group among many who might be ready to add their
voices and energy to a campaign for substantially locating New
Orleans to a new carfree site.
I look forward to seeing what others on the list might think of this.
Montreal QC Canada