Project for Public Spaces has an article on how Shanghai is taking roads out of the Bund and replacing it with public space. (The Bund, or waitan, is a collection of old European buildings along the Huangpu River that were built during foreign occupation of Shanghai. It`s a popular tourist destination). It sounds like a move that is similar in concept to Boston`s Big Dig. They are putting some of the roads underground to make room for some public amenities above ground. Just looking at the picture in the article shows why they need to make this change.
I must say that it`s forward thinking by the Shanghai government. A similar thing could have happened to the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto. That monolithic elevated highway separates Downtown Toronto from it`s lakefront area. It`s a pain to walk through that area and you have to watch out for traffic coming down the off-ramps. Plus, you should see the soot on my friends` balconies near the Gardiner. It`s a filthy accumulation of pollution all over the balcony. Unfortunately, there was not enough political will for the powers that be in Ontario to tear down the Gardiner and put it underground, or to demolish it entirely without a highway replacement plan. The powers have decided to rehabilitate the aging expressway in favour of removing it.
Kudos to Shanghai and thumbs down to the Gardiner.