Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Valley Freeways

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I snapped this photo some months ago on a trip to the East Valley to meet a client. If memory serves, it’s a picture of where the 202 passes over the 60.

I’m sort of an oddball – I love the Valley’s freeways for their looks. I love the sweeping space underneath the overpasses, and the way the city’s planners seem to spend time, energy and money making our freeways kinda pretty.

It’s true that the freeways help me scoot around town quickly. . . it’s true that compared to other cities I’ve driven in (Chicago, Manhattan, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia) they’re relatively traffic free. . . and it’s true that the radar cameras have slowed traffic speeds to a reasonable 60-something, down from the 85 that seemed standard pre-camera.

But I really love the freeways’ looks. I think I was one of a teensy handful of city residents who actually appreciated Phoenix’s attempt to art up (tart up?) the Piestewa Freeway back in 1992 with Alice in Wonderland-inspired sculptures of teacups and saucers placed on the tops of the freeway retaining walls and scattered through the neighborhoods close to either side of the freeway.  Although the national media praised Phoenix’s moxy in putting up the freeway art, there was quite a controversy in the local media, with most folks coming out on the “I hate it” side of the argument.

The cups and saucers were replaced by the Squaw Peak Pots but even those eventually came down when HOV (carpooling) lanes were put in.

You can see a couple more arty freeway pictures in Chris’s Moving Stills posts on freeway art, and my favorite spot in town, the 101 overpass.

Wondering about the Valley’s freeways? The City has an excellent map of the entire freeway system on it’s website. Want a printable version? Click here. Trying to estimate commuting times? Google Maps has pretty solid time estimates for traveling Phoenix’s freeways.