Lord Overpass Renewal: The Dialogue

jeff speck

Urban planner Jeff Speck is a friend of Lowell’s. He likes the city. He has praised the renaissance of the city. His advice is worth considering. His knowledge, based on working around the country and the world, is valuable. It’s a mistake for anyone to paint him as some kind of outside interference. A few years ago, Jeff took in his hand an outstretched hand from the community here and accepted a request to help us think through the next phase of improvement for downtown, especially. He came back recently to offer observations on what’s happened and encouraged everyone to keep going forward. He sees Lowell as a special American place. A special American place with its urban design, restored buildings, engaged residents, and expressive culture. He keeps up with what’s happening. Good things are in motion. The current Lord Overpass make-over plan has innovative and practical elements developed by the City Hall leadership and City planners with urgent input from residents, but there is still time to think about how it can be made even better. We should embrace thoughtful advice, wherever it comes from.

2 Responses to Lord Overpass Renewal: The Dialogue

  1. Jay says:

    The level of interest Speck has shown in Lowell is noteworthy. No doubt he likes the city and its people but I believe his continued interest stems from the potential Lowell has to actually become a walkable city once again. Very few cities of this size have the population density, street network, and strength in neighborhoods that Lowell does. With the proper design, the city and our lives, could truly be transformed and Speck knows that.
    The problem is that the people who design our streets clearly don’t know how to design a complete street. Westford and Middlesex streets are all you need to see ( completely redone and not ONE tree planted?). This design is 1 0f 10 in terms of walkability. We need to be at 9/10 of 10 to have a chance at reconditioning residents to walk a little more.

    The council has adopted a complete street initiative but our engineers don’t know what that is. We need to urge, harass, beg the council and manger to get us proper engineers or Westford street will happen everywhere and we will get nowhere. ( at least not without a car).

  2. Brian says:

    You hit the nail on the head. It wouldn’t be that hard to transform the urban neighborhoods surrounding downtown into a walkers paradise. Protected bike lanes and bike share throughout the city would be needed if we reduce driving capacity.
    Maybe it’s time to create a head of Active Transportation in the administration that would have rank over traffic engineering.
    Your point about trees on Westford is spot on. It sickens me that the city wants to cut down the trees on Nesmith St next to the Kittredge park playground for a few extra feet of road space.

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