Reconnecting a City Divided by Roads

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Tony Kroeger is the Planning Manager for the City of Dayton.

The Dayton Riverfront Master Plan is, in many ways, a plan about connecting. This is a common theme among the many projects being advanced—connecting neighborhoods with waterways, connecting neighborhoods with one another and connecting residents with natural amenities. From the ambitious plans to connect two sides of the Great Miami River through Sunrise and Sunset parks and the Unity Bridge, to neighborhood investments that seek to capitalize on unique natural attributes, to roadway changes that will reduce barriers, the implementation of the plan ultimately means a Dayton that is more engaged with nature and neighborhoods are more engaged with one another.

Various historical events and choices have led to the fragmentation of American cities, and Dayton was not spared from this trend. For example, many of our roads and highways were not designed and constructed with riverfront access in mind. We see the effects of this today in how Interstate-75 was designed and located. We see it in the wide riverfront roadways that, while sometimes attractive from an automobile, are a completely different experience for those outside of a vehicle. Furthermore, land uses that have no practical benefit from being located on a riverfront were established, detracting from the usage and visual quality of the waterways. And while our vitally important levee system was understandably designed for the practical purpose of preventing another catastrophe, their inherently dividing nature caused neighborhoods to be separated from waterways.

All of this leads to opportunity. When we work towards infrastructure changes, new housing designed for the riverfront, and improvements to levees, we are working on addressing the fragmenting impacts of past events and choices—which will lead to the prevailing aspiration of a better-connected Dayton.

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