Make Street Intersections PAY a PROFIT (Jun, 1932)

Make Street Intersections PAY a PROFIT

RECORDS show that busy street intersections are the favorite spots in which traffic accidents occur. To eliminate these danger spots, J. G. Van Zandt, an engineer of Pittsburgh, Penn., has patented the idea of a safety-tower which practically eliminates the possibility of crossing collisions and at the same time returns a profit to the community.

Space above and below street level at intersections belongs to the city. Mr. Van Zandt’s towers would be constructed at the intersection, as shown in the drawing below, and would contain stores, offices, and parking facilities which would return a handsome revenue to the builders.

The safety feature is provided for by the two-level roadway. North-south traffic travels on one level, with east-west traffic passing above it, doing away with the need for stop and go signs, since traffic is continuous. Crossings for pedestrians are provided at street level; autos travel below and above the street, but not on its surface at the intersection.

Motorists making right turns pass underneath the pedestrian bridges. Left turns are not permitted. Parking facilities are provided for beneath the street level.

Revenue produced would depend largely on conditions at individual intersections. In many cases, Mr. Van Zandt believes, small cities can well afford to construct a safety-tower as a civic center building, satisfying local needs for city hall, banquet halls, public rest rooms, etc.

It is a simple matter to locate an air beacon on the top of the tower.

  1. Stannous says: January 1, 20084:52 am

    Works great unless some troublemaker wants to make a left turn.

  2. Rick Auricchio says: January 1, 20086:27 pm

    Or a large truck tries to get through.

  3. Rick Auricchio says: January 1, 20086:29 pm

    The beacons are a nice touch.

    They assume the air is polluted enough so that an aviator can see the beam pointing toward the airport.

  4. Stannous says: January 1, 20089:43 pm

    And I didn’t think about it until later but if one street goes under there is no reason for the other to go up.

    I can’t believe they granted a patent on this silliness.

  5. glindsey says: January 2, 20088:45 am

    Actually, I think the idea was that the pedestrians would be at ground level, with the east-west traffic below them and the north-south traffic above them. Interesting concept, except for the problems noted above — no left turns would make for some crazy navigation in the city, and large trucks would definitely be an issue (though I’ll bet the designer assumed all cargo would be transported through an extensive rail system). And can you imagine one of these at every single city street intersection? You’d constantly be going up and down ramps, trying to get around!

  6. Richard C says: January 2, 200811:39 am

    It’s not the intersection that “pays a profit”, it’s the commercial building that does so. If you put the commercial building in the middle of the block, it’d pay the same profit, and it would be simpler to construct there, too. Put it on that empty corner lot just to the left of its present position, and it’s even easier and cheaper to build there, so its profit will be even higher.

    He’s combined two ideas: that of using overpass/underpasses to separate traffic, and that of constructing office buildings on top of the real estate used by streets. The former is reasonable under some circumstances, the latter rarely so.

    Imagine when a gasoline tanker crashes and catches fire under the building, like happened in Oakland’s MacArthur Maze awhile back, causing the overpass to fall down.

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