Parkway


Parkway

In the United States, Parkways are defined as follows:

#A type of road
##A broad landscaped thoroughfare; especially : one from which trucks and other heavy vehicles are excluded."parkway." Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com (14 Apr. 2007).]
##A roadway in a park : a landscaped thoroughfare connecting parks
##An expressway located on a strip of land legally constituting a public park and therefore not open to heavy vehicles
#A landscaped strip of land paralleling or running in the center of a thoroughfare

Parkways are fairly common in New York City and its environs, and rarer in most of the USA.

Since the late 20th century, many places have added buses, taxis, and limousines to the list of vehicles authorized to use parkways in order to promote the use of public transportation. These exceptions to the commercial or heavy traffic rule tended to blur the distinction between parkways and freeways.

History

Over the years, many different types of roads have been labeled parkways. The first parkways in America were developed in the 19th Century by Frederick Law Olmsted as segregated roads for pedestrians, bicyclists, equestrians, and carriages, with the most famous of this group being Eastern Parkway and Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, NY. Roads such as Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, MA and Bidwell and Lincoln Parkways in Buffalo, New York are broad, divided roads with large landscaped central medians. These older parkways often act as the approach to a large city park such as the Boston Common in Boston or Delaware Park in Buffalo. They are lined with houses. Some separated express lanes from local lanes, though this was not always the case.

During the early 20th century, the meaning of the word was expanded to include limited-access highways designed for recreational driving of automobiles. New parkways provided scenic places to race motor cars outside the city without stopping for pedestrian traffic and slower vehicles. These parkways led to more development outside the city, which eventually limited their usefulness for recreation.

Some of these parkways have become major local or interstate traffic routes, however they retained the name parkway. These parkways have been designed particularly for through traffic, and many can be classified generally as freeways or toll highways.

Historically, the term "parkway" has often implied that the road was designed specifically with a naturalistic or manicured landscaping of the median and adjacent land areas meant to suggest a pastoral driving experience, isolated from the manifestations of commerce and advertising, even when the road passes through populated areas; for this reason commercial traffic is excluded.

Many parkways have signature road signs with special emblems that suggest a thematic driving experience and increase the sense of isolation from civilization in the vicinity of the road.

The system of parkways in the U.S. predate such later limited-access highways as the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the German autobahn system, and the United States Interstate highway system.

Beginnings: New York City

The terminology "parkway" to define a type of road was coined by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, designers of New York City's Central Park, in their proposal to link city and suburban parks with pleasure roads. Eastern Parkway and Ocean Parkway (Brooklyn) were actually built at this time. Soon after, similar "parkways" were built in and around Boston, as coordinated parts of an extensive park and road system; see for example the Mystic Valley Parkway (1895). The New York City area continued to set trends with a new 20th century type featuring off-grade crossings and other features that foreshadowed later freeway designs. Construction on the Bronx River Parkway began in 1907, and on the Long Island Motor Parkway (also known as the Vanderbilt Parkway) in 1906. In the 1920s, the parkway system around New York City grew extensively under the direction of Robert Moses, President of the Long Island State Park Commission, who saw parkways as an active means to transfer population from crowded urban areas onto undeveloped areas.

One of the most famous parkways in the New York area is the Merritt Parkway in Fairfield County, Connecticut, which opened in the 1930s. The road is an example of parkway aesthetics, as it runs through the forests of southern Connecticut, but also each bridge on the parkway was designed uniquely and enhances the beauty of the parkway.

Across the United States

In the 1930s, the concept of the parkway was extended to the federal government, which constructed several national parkways designed for recreational driving and to commemorate historic routes. Such two-lane parkways typically have a relatively low speed limit and are maintained by the National Park Service. Examples include the CCC-built Blue Ridge Parkway / Skyline Drive in North Carolina and Virginia, the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee, and the Colonial Parkway in eastern Virginia's Historic Triangle area. A number of additional parkways were proposed and unbuilt during this era [http://www.roanoke.com/roatimes/special_sections/parkway/parkway1.html] .

Parkways in modern times

In Kentucky, "parkway" is used to designate a controlled-access highway built as a toll road. were built in Kentucky in the 1960s and 1970s. Kentucky law requires that once the bonds that finance the construction of a toll road are paid off, the road must be turned into a freeway. All nine roads are now freeways, with the last toll facilities removed in 2006, but have retained their "Parkway" designation.

The Arroyo Seco Parkway from Pasadena to Los Angeles, built in 1940, became the first segment of the vast Southern California freeway system. It is now called the Pasadena Freeway and is part of California Route 110.

In the Greater New York City region, parkways are generally (but not always) controlled-access highways restricted to non-commercial traffic.

In the Pittsburgh region, three of the major interstates are referred to informally as parkways. The Parkway East (formally the Penn-Lincoln Parkway), designated I-376, spans Downtown Pittsburgh to Monroeville, Pennsylvania. The Parkway West, designated as I-279, US Route 22/30, and Pennsylvania Route 60, as well as Future I-376 along its entire length, goes from Downtown Pittsburgh to Pittsburgh International Airport. The Parkway North, designated I-279, spans Downtown Pittsburgh to Franklin Park, Pennsylvania.

Many opponents of increased road construction in the United States claim that the use of the term "parkway" in any sense other than as a scenic route through parkland, is deceptive. It is claimed by such advocates that many existing and proposed parkways (such as the proposed West Eugene Parkway in Oregon) are functionally indistinguishable from freeways and/or expressways, and the "parkway" label is used to make construction of such routes seem more palatable to the public (who might otherwise stage a freeway revolt, especially if their neighborhood is affected). Others claim that this is splitting hairs; and that the use of the term "parkway" in conjunction with urban and suburban highways is a well-established practice. Furthermore, most routes designated with the "parkway" label do have scenic enhancements (making the route more attractive for both motorists and neighbors), and many such routes do exclude trucks. As truck traffic interferes with normal vehicle movement the congestion in the road can be reduced.

In Minneapolis, the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway system includes about convert|50|mi|km of streets designated as parkways. These streets are not freeways, since they are signed with a 25 mile per hour speed limit and they have several pedestrian crossings and stop signs. [cite web|url=http://www.minneapolisparks.org/grandrounds/inf_about.htm
title=Information Center: About the Grand Rounds|accessdate=2007-12-18
] [cite web|url=http://secondward.blogspot.com/2007/01/traffic-calming-event.html|title=Second Ward, Minneapolis: Traffic Calming Event|accessdate=2007-12-18]

References

External links

* [http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_080.html Why do we drive on the parkway and park on the driveway?] (from The Straight Dope)
* [http://www.nycroads.com/history/motor/ Long Island Motor Parkway]
* [http://www.nycroads.com/roads/bronx-river/ Bronx River Parkway]
* [http://www.nycroads.com/roads/merritt/ Merritt Parkway]
* [http://www.nps.gov/blri Blue Ridge Parkway]
* [http://www.nps.gov/natr Natchez Trace Parkway]
* [http://scenictrace.com/ Natchez Trace Compact]
* [http://www.nps.gov/colo/Colonial_Parkway/ColPkway.htm NPS Colonial Parkway webpage]

ee also

* New York State Parkway System
* National Scenic Byway


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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