Reasons to Save It

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THE ERIE REDLINING MAP (left) encouraged banks to stop investing in the pink and yellow areas of the city - including all of the Eastside neighborhoods surrounding the #ErieViaduct. The 2015 land value map of Erie (right) demonstrates the success of the strategy - every neighborhood around the Viaduct is ranked in the lowest possible category.  

EIGHTY YEARS OF DISINVESTMENT IS LONG ENOUGH. If the Viaduct is demolished, schoolchildren will be forced to walk 2,000 feet (on a narrow path inches from a noisy highway with traffic spewing fumes, and sometimes flinging rain and snow) and their "reward" will be dodging vehicles turning right-on-red at busy intersection with 5 million annual cars, trucks and many tractor-trailers.

NO ONE OBJECTED WHEN $180M was spent in 2005 divide Eastside neighborhoods wit a new"Bayfront Connector" four-lane arterial highway. But, some leaders are fighting efforts to spend $1.35M to fix the Viaduct for continued non-vehicular use. While total cost of tearing down the bridge and building walls on either side of the tracks is $1.45M, PennDOT reports that if the City agrees, $1.26M in "demolition off-set" funds can be used to fix the Viaduct. That means the City and ErieCPR will have to come up with about $100,000 to save the bridge. Easy enough, but, impossible without the City's OK. 

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creating jobs

If the Viaduct is torn down, the majority of the project $ will be spent hiring out-of-area demolition team. If the Viaduct is stabilized, we can use a Community Benefits Agreement to be sure local people get jobs fixing the Viaduct. In addition, for every $1M invested in the Viaduct, an expected 11 jobs will be created in the private sector. 

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supporting social justice & urban CONNECTIVITY

The Viaduct key non-vehicular artery relied on by impoverished Eastsiders who make at least 200 north-south trips over it each day to get to school, work, worship, shopping, recreation, family and friends. The Eastside has 20 north-south streets and since Division St. was closed, only 6 connect over/under the railroad tracks. Demolishing the Viaduct will reduce this number to 5/20. Compare this to the Westside of town with 14 north-south roads, 7 of which cross the tracks. In addition, when it was constructed in 2005, Rt.290 harmed minority neighborhoods by cuttin off many east-west roads including E.11th, E.9th, E.7th, and E.5th. 

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reducing crime

Research has revealed a clear connection between geographic isolation (closed streets and an increase of violent crime. 

A study of crime in East New York described isolated neighborhoods that "lacked cultural, recreational, or commercial facilities" and youth who"never left the area."  However, to find employment,"parents had to leave for work." The resulting lack of adults in the neighborhoods, "had many consequences for the community, among them that the mothers, who tended to be the organizers in comparable poor communities, were unable to be involved in local issues." 

Thus, without any visible adult authority, "rules of the street"  left youth to protect themselves. As one young man stated, "I know it’s a cliché and all, but where I come from there is no such thing as turn the other cheek. You gotta settle it right there and then. They’ll come back with their friends. You have to assert yourself.”

This information and quoted statements can be found in Chapter 7 of the book "Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence" is titled "What Did Ian Tell God? : School Violence in East New York" by Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove (who spoke at Erie's Booker T. Washington Center in August 2015) , Gina Arias, Moises Nunez, Ericka Phillips, Peter McFarlane, Rodrick Wallace, and Robert E. Fullilove III.

Other articles documenting the relationship between isolation and crime include: "Urban Poverty and Neighborhood Effects on Crime: Incorporating Spacial and Network Perspectives" by Corina Graif, Andrew S. Gladfelter and Stephen A. Matthews, 2014; "Space Matters: An Analysis of Poverty, Poverty Clustering and Violent Crime" by Paul B. Stresky, Amie M. Schuck and Michael J. Hogan, 2006; "Crime, Isolation and Law Enforcement" by Marcel Fafchamps and Christine Moser, Cornell University, 2003.