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Thu, Nov. 18th, 2004, 05:54 pm
nibot: Inner Loop and 390

I've been thinking lately about the Inner Loop and about I-390. Three-ninety is like a moat around the city. On Alexander Street I cross 390 into the city and somewhere in my mind I think I'm crossing a river. The Inner Loop — perpetually devoid of any traffic, as far as I can tell, and completely useless in all of my Rochester travels — is a greater enigma. More than a moat, it feels like a tournequite squeezing off downtown — certainly the opposite of the intended effect. When was it built? Why was it built? Most of all, what was there before?

[the inner loop, viewed from space]
The inner loop is plainly visible from space.

The Inner Loop

I haven't found much on the Inner Loop. There is a usenet thread on misc.transport.road titled "Rethinking the Inner Loop." It contains a dead link to a D+C story on that subject.

Construction of the Loop took years, hampered at various points by costs, bureaucratic hurdles and community opposition to demolition of hundreds of homes and landmark buildings that stood in the way.

Truly regrettable is the amount of landmark architecture that was demolished in the loop's name. Let's let it remain a useful piece of infrastructure instead of a blighted patch of open space on the surface, so the loss of those buildings is not a complete waste.

Searching the Democrat and Chroncile archive reveals a litany of articles on the Inner Loop, and its failure. Unfortunately, articles from the DC archive aren't available without paying a fee.

The circle game March 11, 2003 — The Inner Loop is an anachronism, but it's not easily undone. It's difficult these days to find any defenders of the Inner Loop, the mini-freeway encircling downtown. And for good reason. It is an imposing barrier to a unifying redevelopment of a city in serious need of revival. It is underused, is costly to maintain and is an asphalt relic of the time when all Rochester roads led to Eastman Kodak Co. But it is a lot easier, and infinitely less expensive, to say that the

Rethinking the Loop March 9, 2003 — The freeway that circles downtown is a commuter's dream turned into an albatross - but there is hope. BY STAFF WRITERS LARA BECKER LIU and RICK ARMON Building it took 20 years. Talk about dismantling it has been around at least 10 more. Now the city is taking that talk about the Inner Loop to a new level, by preparing to spend half a million dollars to look into the possibility of elevating parts of the moatlike freeway that circles downtown. This would be the second study of

Reconstruct Inner Loop as route to city renewal March 8, 2001 — CRAIG JENSEN GUEST ESSAYIST I am very disappointed that the Genesee Transportation Council's Transportation Improvement Program for the next two years does not include the Inner Loop Reconstruction Project (Democrat and Chronicle, story, March 4). The Inner Loop reconstruction could result in the raising of the east sections up to grade, linking downtown back to city neighborhoods, creating a more pedestrian-friendly downtown, and transforming some of the least desirable land

Send Inner Loop to nearest exit March 27, 2003 — wipe out ring that splits city in two ANDREW STAINTON GUEST ESSAYIST The ``Rethinking the Loop'' article (Democrat and Chronicle, March 9) brought much needed focus to a burden Rochester has been carrying for decades. The Inner Loop was conceived by the same crowd who thought tearing down the Union Station - an architectural marvel - was a good idea. It's too late to bring the train station back, but now is


There is some decent information on the web about I-390. It looks like the Southwedge was nearly doomed to be paved.

Construction on I-390 from Dansville north was blocked by environmental legislation was scheduled for 1975-1976, but blocked by environmental legislation. [4'Increasing the federal share of highway projects...' US House of Representatives, Committee on Public Works and Transportation, March 1975.]

The Rochester city council opposed the northward extension, and it was cancelled. I-390 was rerouted to meet intersect I-490 west of the city. This portion of I-390, together with I-590 east of the city and their state-numbered counterparts extending north of I-490, were formerly numbered NY 47 and named the "Outer Loop" in distinction to downtown's "Inner Loop."

The Genessee Expressway (Interstate 390) begins at the Southern Tier Expressway (Interstate 86 and NYS Route 17) near Bath and currently ends at the Rochester Outer Loop in Brighton. Interstate 390 continues up the west side of the Inner Loop and ends at Interstate 590 in Gates. This was not the original plan for the Genesee Expressway. Originally, it would have continued north, running paralell to Clinton Avenue and crossing over it at Field Street. It would have cut a swath through Swillburg to Goodman Avenue and its feeder lanes would have run parallel with Interstate 490 up to the Inner Loop. Downtown merchants have complained that their demise was hastened by the decision not to build the highway. While the Genessee Expressway would have provided an important link from the south into Downtown Rochester, it would have obliterated one of the nicer neighborhoods left in Rochester.

Scars and evidence of the Genesee Expressway can still be seen. A number of houses on Field and Sycamore Streets were demolished for the right of way. While new houses were built on the lots later, their 70s colonial style clashed with the three story houses originally built in the 1910s and 1920s. A large open lot at the corner of Goodman and Interstate 490 exists, as does a broad swath of land between Broadway and 490.

Wed, Dec. 14th, 2005 03:16 am (UTC)
(Anonymous): Alexander St

I wasn't sure if you were thinking of a different roadway, but Alexander St doesn't actually cross either I 390 or The Inner Loop.

Thu, Mar. 22nd, 2007 03:43 am (UTC)

Cover the inner loop and make it a tunnel...build new buildings over the coverings...simple solution, maybe expensive, but it works in all metro centers

Mon, Jul. 23rd, 2007 04:41 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous): inner loop

Here are some aerial photos of downtown from the 1930s until the present time. You can see the loop construction in the 50's.:


Sat, Aug. 9th, 2008 04:42 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous): The Inner Loop Guild

I find the Inner Loop to be very convenient for me to travel to downtown. I live in Henrietta, and I jump on the I-390, and within minutes I am in downtown. I then get off at one of the conveniently placed exits to downtown. One comment above argues that the inner loop took years, with cost shortfalls, bureaucratic wrangling, and public opposition. I can safely say, that any interstate, expressway, or freeway has come under the same opposition. It is not unique to the inner loop.