It’s been some time since Project DeRenne has made the news. The last mention I could find of the once-much-talked-about plan to alter Savannah’s DeRenne Avenue is a WSAV-TV story from July: Project DeRenne Among Those That Would Receive Funds from Transportation Sales Tax.
My thoughts returned to DeRenne Avenue recently, when news began to emerge about a plan for an elevated expressway on Abercorn Street. The Savannah Morning News’ Eric Curl explains the proposal includes, “An elevated expressway that would stand about 35 feet above Abercorn’s median and separate regional and local drivers.”
Project DeRenne, too, sought to balance the needs of regional drivers, local drivers and residents who live along the corridor. When DeRenne Avenue became a major route for commuters from western counties, the effects on the neighborhoods it bisects are manifested in both easily recognizable and more subtle ways.
On a sunday morning in January 2008, I tried to document the details of a landscape that most people try to ignore. Here’s what I wrote at that time:
“When a streetscape is designed to maximize the flow of motor vehicles the results are as predictable as they are ugly. Yet we may not comprehend how desolate the built environment becomes when it is designed exclusively to move cars. Traffic becomes a distraction, drawing our attention away from the ways that it degrades the spaces, public and private, at the edge of the roadway. But when we strip away the cars, we can see how much damage they have done. If we continue to put the needs of cars ahead of the needs of people, we’ll get more of the same and likely worse.”
Almost five years later, has anything changed on DeRenne Avenue?