Skybridges and Tunnels

The article below is a good synopsis of the arguments against not constructing sky bridges and tunnels in downtowns. New urbanists dislike bridges and tunnels interconnecting buildings, believing that it cuts down on street pedestrian traffic, harming retail and working against a vibrant downtown.

I agree with that assessment, but I also believe there are several logical exceptions where sky bridges and tunnels makes sense. And Peoria has those exceptions.

There are skybridges interconnecting buildings and parking decks of our three largest downtown Companies - Caterpillar, Methodist Hospital, and OSF Hospital. These skybridges interconnect buildings and parking under one ownership and control, in effect making the buildings larger. In each case forcing people to travel to the ground floor, leave the building, cross the street, and reenter the adjacent building and return to a higher floor would be inconvenient and inefficient. There would be no retail for the pedestrian to pass by, and a slight increase in the potential for auto / pedestrian conflict.

An existing or new hotel interconnected to the Civic Center would be another exception to this rule. Meeting planners much prefer a Conference or Convention Center to be physically connected to the conference center hotel. An interconnected hotel makes moving from the hotel to the Convention Center much more comfortable - no heavy coats, boots, or rain gear required. Most of our competitor hotels and conference / convention centers now have interconnected facilities.

Convention planners and companies have found out that when a move outside the building is required to travel to and from the hotel and conference center, meeting attendees often do not return, instead staying their hotel room. This reduces the value of the conference to exhibitors. Some conferences and conventions do not choose a city where a connected hotel is not available.