Bill Borah, who steered an interstate away from the New Orleans riverfront, dies at 79 

The entire French Quarter (and Treme) should stand up in unison and salute Bill.

“The expressway, which would have eliminated pedestrian access to the river, was envisioned as part of the interstate highway system. It was the brainchild of the New York City planner Robert Moses, who had proposed it in 1946 as a symbol of progress that, he said, would alleviate French Quarter traffic. In his vision, the expressway would sweep down Elysian Fields from North Claiborne Avenue until it reached the river, then run alongside it until it connected with what would become the Pontchartrain Expressway.”

“Not all of Mr. Borah’s initiatives succeeded. He was on the losing sides in opposing the redevelopment of the St. Thomas public housing complex – a plan that included a Wal-Mart – and the demolition of 67 acres of a Mid-City neighborhood for the University Medical Center.

Because Mr. Borah abhorred what he called “planning by surprise,” he drafted amendments to New Orleans’ Home Rule Charter requiring the city to have a master plan with the force of law to guide future development.”

Source: Bill Borah, who steered an interstate away from the New Orleans riverfront, dies at 79 | NOLA.com

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Claiborne Expressway History and Future

As is said clearly in this video by downtown leader Vaughn Fauria, the spur of the Expressway that was slated to go through the French Quarter and was defeated was not the same project as the Claiborne Expressway. Too many people repeat the untruth that the preservationists simply pushed the hated highway over to Treme, but as described in detail in the landmark book “The Second Battle of New Orleans: A History of the Vieux Carre Riverfront Expressway Controversy”, the Riverfront spur was a separate project in the development of the I-10 system. Ironically, that spur through the French Quarter was added as a benefit to the Quarter as the planners thought that it would ensure that the Quarter wouldn’t be left out of the auto-centric future. ugh.

However, even though the Claiborne action was not the result of the FQ stoppage, there is no doubt that the placement of highways in the 1950s-1970s was based partly on appeasing existing power elites (read rich white residents or white business associations) and therefore, on the prevalence of institutional racism in municipal decisions.
The takedown of the Claiborne Expressway is far from decided but as long as the residents and businesses that surround it are the primary stakeholders consulted in the final decision, it is likely that whatever results, it will be better than what we have now.