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Capping The Downtown Connector: Is It Feasible?

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Evidently we aren't the only ATLiens letting our minds wander while parked in traffic on the Connector. Our hyperbolic but good-hearted post about Capping the Connector has received so much feedback we felt obligated to keep the conversation going. How? By looking to cities that have actually made capping happen — and shamelessly asking for intelligent commentary.

First, as a matter of clarification, we don't know if such a feat is technically feasible. (Imagine the construction-induced traffic delays!) We'd love to hear from our architects and engineers out there. Is this project logistically possible? What if it was done in segments, over the course of years? What might ballpark costs look like?

From where we sit in our digital ivory tower it's looking like this isn't quite the moonpie idea we thought it was. Several of our readers pointed out that Dallas just completed a similar project, and Austin is seriously considering a similar, if even more ambitious project, which will include burying part of Interstate 35 before capping it. In fact, capping interstates isn't such a new idea at all. Thanks to some research provided to us from our friends at the Trust for Public Lands, it's clear there's been all kinds of interstate capping going on in American cities, dating back to the construction of Carl Schruz Park over FDR Drive in NYC. That project was completed in 1939. (See all park data provided to Curbed Atlanta by the Trust for Public Lands here. Note: The capping projects skew heavily toward cities on both coasts).

And yes, we have heard of the Big Dig in Boston. Referencing the project that is synonymous with an infrastructure boondoggle/money-sinkhole/general disaster didn't seem the best way to advocate for a major public works project in our fair city. To be fair, there are very big differences in capping the Connector and that other megaproject. The most critical distinction being that capping the Connector would not require digging a 3.5-mile hole in the ground next to a very large body of water.

So what say you, armchair infrastructurist: What would it take to Cap the Connector? Could a city known for overreaching ideas that eventually sputter really pull this off?

— By Curbed Atlanta contributor Lee Kolber

[Above: That blasted Connector. Photo: Georgia Tech Research News.]