Why remove the I-16 flyover?

When Interstate 16 was constructed, the neighborhoods and businesses along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (called West Broad Street at the time), were severely impacted. The removal of the flyover will restore the fabric of this area and aid in revitalization of the community.

When will the flyover be removed?

Assuming that funding is in place, this process can typically takes 8-10 years to complete, depending on the overall complexity.  Because of the many factors that influence the timing, such as funding and local, state, and federal approvals, the absolute earliest any deconstruction would be anticipated is 2022; however, it could still take many years after that.  The current analysis – the Interchange Modification Report (IMR) – is one piece of a larger federal process required for making changes to an interstate interchange. The next steps are: completion of an environmental document, preliminary engineering, final design, and construction.

How will traffic enter downtown Savannah once the flyover is removed?

Traffic on I-16 will still be able to drive directly into downtown Savannah.  Currently, most of the downtown traffic is funneled onto Montgomery Street, and there is very little transition from high, interstate travel speeds to the lower speed limits in downtown.  The removal of the flyover will connect with the grid street pattern of downtown, and provide a more appropriate speed transition by way of a boulevard.  You can see the concept here.

I thought this project ended when the Transportation Investment Act (TIA, also known as “T-SPLOST”) didn’t pass?

Project development and permitting is moving forward.  The I-16 flyover removal was included as one of the projects that would have been funded by the TIA revenue. Since TIA did not pass for our region, other funding sources will be needed to implement the changes.

How will the flyover removal be funded?

The traditional process for funding is to use federal funds with a portion of local/state matching dollars.  The project is identified for funding through the long range planning process and added to the local Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and statewide (GDOT) work program as funding is secured.

Funding sources are limited and are based on local priorities, as set by the CORE MPO. The information that results from this Interchange Modification Report will be used to support the project justification and provide support documentation to move the project forward for implementation.

When did the idea of removing the I-16 ramps over MLK Jr. Blvd. begin?

The idea to remove the I-16 ramps over MLK Jr. Blvd. is not new and has been identified in several previous studies.  Most recently, the Civic Master Plan for the area explored the many benefits to the community in great detail.  You can review the previous studies here.

If this project focuses on the revitalization of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, why is it named “Reclaiming Old West Broad Street?”

Prior to the construction of I-16, West Broad Street (renamed to MLK Jr. Blvd in 1990) was a vibrant commercial corridor.  This project aims to restore the economic vitality and stability that was at one time synonymous with the name West Broad Street.

After the removal of the I-16 ramps and restoration of the local street network, how much land will be “returned” to the neighborhood?

The Civic Master Plan identifies a series of streets and blocks currently occupied by the existing flyover and on-ramps.  The restoration of this area as shown by the concept will create a neighborhood of small-scale blocks and approximately 8.2 acres of land.

Why not construct an elevated park instead of removing the structure, similar to the High Line in New York?

While the two projects may seem to have many similarities, they are actually quite different.

  • A primary goal of Reclaiming Old West Broad Street:  I-16 Ramp Removal is to reclaim approximately 8 acres of developable area in downtown Savannah and expand the connectivity of Savannah’s gridded street system.  This is only possible if the current structures are completely removed.  Much of the current exit ramp is constructed on fill (rather than elevated), so development and new connectivity cannot occur under the structure, as is the case with the High Line.
  • The High Line was constructed on an abandoned elevated railway structure that was no longer connected to an active transportation system.  Interstate 16 will remain active after removal of the ramps.
  • The High Line is a 1.45-mile long linear park that connects many neighborhoods.  If the I-16 exit ramp remains, it would be less than 1/3 that length and would not connect neighborhoods.
  • A new park, Shinhoster Square, is proposed along with the new street network.  This park is in keeping with the tradition of Savannah’s squares and honors Earl Shinhoster, a long-time community activist.

Who was Earl T. Shinhoster?

Earl T. Shinhoster was a native of Savannah and an alumnus of Morehouse College and Cleveland State University. As a teenager, he was involved in the Civil Rights Movement. His legacy included a 31-year career with the NAACP, including serving as Chief Executive Officer.  In 2001, the Georgia Legislature passed a resolution to designate the Earl T. Shinhoster Interchange and the Earl T. Shinhoster Bridge to honor him.



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