Leading Off, Steve Blow weighed in on the I-345 teardown over the weekend in a Dallas Morning News columnthat succinctly summed up the attitudes and opinions of those inclined to dismiss the idea out of hand. It's worth digging into it a bit."> Why Everyone Needs to Read Steve Blow’s Pro-Highway Argument – D Magazine

Why Everyone Needs to Read Steve Blow’s Pro-Highway Argument

As Cristina mentioned in Leading Off, Steve Blow weighed in on the I-345 teardown over the weekend in a Dallas Morning News columnthat succinctly summed up the attitudes and opinions of those inclined to dismiss the idea out of hand. It's worth digging into it a bit.

Tear down this road? Some think we should. Click through to read Patrick Kennedy's argument.  (photo by Scott Womack)
Tear down this road? Some think we should. Click through to read Patrick Kennedy’s argument. (photo by Scott Womack)

As Cristina mentioned in Leading Off, Steve Blow weighed in on the I-345 teardown over the weekend in a Dallas Morning News column that succinctly summed up the attitudes and opinions of those inclined to dismiss the idea out of hand. It’s worth digging into it a bit.

Of course most of Blow’s column is rhetorical hot air. Blow says the idea of tearing down highways is not serious (“It’s about the silliest notion to come along in years”), and masquerades as a champion of common sense truth (“Talk of tearing down freeways has gained a kind of urban hipster cache that makes it hard for people to speak the plain truth”). He slathers on false humility (“Some really smart people have praised this really dumb idea”) and then simplifies his opposition by feigning sympathy (“I’m all in favor of the sentiment behind the proposal — less concrete, a more walkable city”). He disguises a scoffing refusal to explore the issue in any depth with false realism (“I also like living in the real world”), and then dates himself by equating “The Dallas Way” with a love of highways (“Pigs will fly before Dallas rips out one of its most important freeway links”). Blow also reduces those who oppose him into false caricature (“urban hipster”) and then demonizes the idea in order to dismiss its legitimacy (“You can usually count on crazy-town proposals to quickly die on their own… It’s a time-waster and nothing more”).

The fact is, after peeling away the blather, Blow really only has a few simple objections.

1. Where does the traffic go?

Blow: “We all know what happens with just one rush-hour fender-bender on any downtown freeway. It bottles up traffic in nine directions. So imagine the impact of permanently closing one side of the downtown freeway loop.”

Blow doesn’t understand how traffic works. Traffic behaves like a gas, not like a liquid, which is to say, traffic doesn’t exist independently of the roads it travels on, but rather it fills volumes that it is allowed to fill. There isn’t a stream of 160,000 cars (Blow uses the exaggerated 200,000 number, but whatever) trying to flow through the east side of downtown every day. I-345 isn’t an artificial riverbed that captures the already flowing stream of traffic. Rather, the road provides capacity — a line of least resistance — and so car trips become concentrated on that available road. If you remove the road, the traffic won’t bottle up, it will dissipate and flow across a variety of alternative routes in, through, and around the city.

This may be difficult to grasp because it is a somewhat paradoxical concept. Removing capacity quells traffic; building additional capacity increases traffic. This is what baffled traffic engineers when roads literally fell down in San Francisco (due to an earthquake) and New York (due to neglect) and the traffic simply went away. It is what happened when Seoul reclaimed its central city by tearing down its own 160,000 car per day highway. It is why Milwaukee knew they could tear out a connector route that functioned similarly to I-345 and not create “Carmageddon” in the central core.

Traffic analysis of I-345 can’t rely on crude traffic count numbers. Any analysis needs to drill-down into more detail: Where did those cars come from? Where are they going? In traffic engineering terms, this means that roads like I-345 force both short and long trips onto the same piece of transportation infrastructure. Remove that road and the short trips will find more direct ways through and around the city, while longer haul trips will follow the least line of line of resistance around the city on highways like I-635 and Loop 12. It’s important to remember that the real argument here is not that highways are bad, but rather that highways are best suited for moving cars in between municipalities. Urban cores are best served by a diversity of transportation arteries — from smaller side streets to multi-lane boulevards — which are suited to disperse traffic more efficiently through an urban environment.

2. We need to trust in the wisdom of TxDOT.

Blow: “Traffic is already so bad through the Dallas mixmaster that the Texas Department of Transportation is doing an $800 million overhaul. And you really think we’re going to demolish an adjoining freeway segment at the same time? . . . TxDOT needs to start a $100 million rehab project on the elevated freeway. That work can’t wait, but doing just the federally required studies for a tear-down could take up to 10 years.”

First off, this isn’t true. TxDOT could buy five years by making some immediate repairs, but regardless. The real issue here is Blow’s insistence on TxDOT’s needs. The reason most American cities look like they do is because for the last 60 years transportation policy has been dictated by a state and regional organizations whose priority is to move traffic between municipalities, with little regard to how those municipalities function in themselves. TxDOT is essentially a highway building company, and its decision-making matrix doesn’t take into account Dallas’ needs as a city. They will always say that they “need” to build more roads to relieve congestion. TxDOT’s “needs” in Houston created a highway that’s half-a-mile wide. TxDOT said it needed to turn North Central Expressway into double-decker highway like Austin’s I-35. Dallas leaders better understood its city’s needs and fought for a better design of that road.

Dallas needs to look out for its own needs, and what Dallas needs is to invest in its urban core in way that allows it to develop into a more livable and sustainable environment. This isn’t about “hipsters” or “urban lifestyles.” This is about figuring how to attract economic investment, expand with that growth, and do so in a way that remains efficient and sustainable. The most efficient cities in the world are those that are the densest. Cities characterized by the kinds of dense urban environments that facilitate greater social and economic interaction attract both businesses and younger generations of skilled workers. And as growing populations strain existing resources and car-dependent communities take their toll on the environment, Dallas will need to grow a denser urban core just to compete and remain feasible for future growth.

The legacy of post-war highway development is an exportation of the value of urban cores out to speculatively-developed communities on the ever-receding fringes of urban sprawl. The only way to substantially reverse this trend is to remove the infrastructure that led to that syphoning-off of value in the first place. TxDOT’s insistence on sustaining this highway-centric development model only perpetuates an economic model that turns city centers into a mix of blight and high-end development, while low and lower-middle income brackets are pushed further out on the freeway.

3. The development is already there. Tearing down the roads is not that important.

Blow: “No, it’s not ideal. But it’s not the Berlin Wall either. Good development has already been taking place along both sides of the freeway. With more landscaping, lighting and pocket parks beneath it, the freeway doesn’t have to be a pedestrian barrier at all.”

Before writing his column, Blow probably got in his car at the Dallas Morning News headquarters and drove up Ross Ave., taking note of the new developments that are going up on vacant lots just outside of the loop I-345. Of course he didn’t ask himself why these developments are happening 30 years after the connector highway was built, nor did he consider that the existence of the empty lots themselves are reflective of the disintegration of the urban core facilitated by the construction of the highways. This, along with Blow’s truly silly reference to the shade the highways provide, is a disingenuous argument at best, and willfully ignorant at worst. It’s like saying that because a man whose leg was torn off in a car accident can walk with a prosthetic, he wouldn’t want his actual leg back.

I-345 is a delineation that creates two distinct real estate submarkets on either side of the highway. That’s why you may see development on Ross, or pushing up against the highway north of Deep Ellum, but you then see troughs of undeveloped land on the western, downtown side of the highway. Without the highway, the two submarkets would become one, and the market equilibrium created would push development back into the center of downtown. Developments north of Deep Ellum would essentially flow into the Arts District, and the Farmers Market would flow into Deep Ellum.

And I’m not sure how often Blow has walked around under I-345, but his suggestion that we simply dress-up the underside of the highway to promote “walkability” — a catch-all phrase that doesn’t just mean the ability to walk under the highway — is misguided. The urban planner Kevin Lynch, who was involved with early designs of the Dallas Arts District, used a better term: “place legibility.” Lynch argued when we walk around a city we move not only through a physical environment but through a mental representation, a cognitive map made up of our memories. This map consists of a network of paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks. The density of features, of memorable pedestrian encounters, makes a vivid city; the lack of such features leads to an urban space lacking in distinctness and identity.

The fly-over highway is too dominant a feature in the “mental maps” of pedestrians, and it dilutes the pedestrian inter-connectivity between the neighborhoods on both sides of the highway. It is too broad, dark, dominating, and frightening. It is a dead zone, and as previous efforts to dress up the area have demonstrated, bells and whistles can’t overcome the fact that pedestrians read it as an edge.

4. It’s not going to happen. It’s impossible to tear down a highway.

Blow: “Let’s not waste another moment talking about tearing down a freeway in downtown Dallas. It’s never, ever, not-in-a-million-years going to happen.”

I urge Blow to go to this website to read about the many highways that have been torn down in other cities, as well as the roads slated for future demolition. Again, this entire conversation is about the need for cities to wrestle control of transportation planning in their urban communities away from regional-minded planning organizations. It has been done, and it has been done in a many types of cities, from already dense coastal cities to cities which suffered similar problems as Dallas, ravaged by post-war transportation policy.

But what is really sad about Blow’s argument here is its tone. Dallas pretends to be “Big D,” to have bold ideas and grand ambition for building a great world city. But too often when it comes to our big ticket projects, our vision reflects Blow’s defeatist, petrified, small-minded, head-in-the-sand, risk-adverse, have-it-both-ways, provincial attitude. I could go down Blow’s rhetorical route, substituting his dismissive “hipster” label and accuse him of a solipsistic suburban mindset — a way of viewing the world which prizes the ability to run from the driveway to Wal-Mart and back again in under 15 minutes as the ultimate expression of individual freedom. But it’s not that simple. Blow’s grit-less resignation is indicative of why so many of Dallas’ big projects end up failures, and why our conversations around so many issues of urbanity — from transportation to culture — can sometimes seem like they lag 20 years behind the rest of the country. It’s part of this city’s penchant for making foolish civic compromises, for mistaking conventional thinking — no matter how wrong-headed — for common sense.

It hasn’t always been that way. In the 1870s, city leaders knew that the city’s future lay in convincing railroad developers to crisscross their new routes through downtown. In the 1960s, J. Erik Jonsson knew Dallas needed an airport to sustain its viable role as a center of economic exchange in a rapidly globalizing economy. Jonsson also knew that the highways that were being built through his city would destroy it. He tried to stop I-30 from being built through downtown, but it was too late. The federal dollars had already flowed to the state highway builders who were dead set on trudging through. And just as Jonsson was right about the value of the airport, he was right about the highways killing downtown.

Now, thanks to the example set by cities around the country, Dallas has an opportunity to revisit its highways and do what Jonsson couldn’t do. If this city still shares his ambition to be a great city, it should start by tearing down I-345.

Comments

  • Monte Malone

    Mr Blow
    Tear down that highway.

    (I never would’ve thought I’d be borrowing from Ronnie, but hey)

  • Eric Celeste

    [Standing, clapping]

    In January, Steve Blow wrote: “It’s fun to receive ‘amens’ to columns, but I most appreciate a cordial, well-reasoned note of disagreement. That’s almost a lost art in our era of potshots and put-downs.”

    Peter, I want to make this clear: I do not agree with Mr. Blow. Please do not ever eviscerate one of my columns. I do not share his desire to so clearly be made to look out of my league.

  • Bill

    Peter’s analysis is so obviously correct that I can’t imagine Steve Blow continuing to write on. Blow’s argument is juvenile; no serious urban planner would agree with anything in his column. Dallas can continue to send its tax dollars to fund highways and infrastructure projects that are opposite the needs of its residents, but it does so at its own peril.

  • Alexander

    Blow lives in Sunnyvale.

    Just so everyone knows.

    • Jordan Vogel

      Everyone who opposes highways lives in suburbs outside of the city’s with highways stated for demolition. They always oppose these things but dont live where they exist. They are happy with living in suburbs that do not allow highways through their communities. But throwing a highway through a urban community is ok.

  • Tim Rogers

    A few things to add. First, I find his opening rhetorical gambit most curious. Blow writes: “Stop it. Really, just stop it. Let’s not waste another moment talking about tearing down a freeway in downtown Dallas.” He calls for an end to the conversation. Then he goes on to talk about it for 600 words. And, of course, he hops into the comments section to talk about it some more. It’s a small matter, really. Except that the inconsistency, I think, shows a lack of razor-sharp focus on Blow’s part. To put it kindly.

    Blow writes: “[T]alk of tearing down freeways has gained a kind of urban hipster cache that makes it hard for people to speak the plain truth.” I myself have a problem with homophones, so I feel for Blow with the cache/cachet blunder. That one stings. But his derisive use of the phrase “urban hipster” is the real problem here. As if anyone with a beard and a bicycle is a hopeless dreamer whose ideas are not to be taken seriously. In fact, Blow writes the following: “[A] few urban dreamers (ANewDallas.com) want to demolish the elevated freeway that runs along the eastern edge of downtown Dallas.” Well, count among those dreaming urban hipsters Wick Allison and Linda McMahon, the president of the Texas Real Estate Council. Oh, and Mayor Mike Rawlings. He hasn’t come out and said the thing should be torn down, but he has indicated he wants to talk about the option before TxDOT comes in and spends $100 million to repair aging elevated highway.

    Listen, Steve Blow lives in Sunnyvale. Of course he likes highways. Without highways, Blow would have to live in the city he writes about. A lot of commuters would. And that’s the point. Highways export people. They subsidize the lifestyles of people like Blow, allowing them to flee to the suburbs on nights and weekends. Here in the city, we want those people to stick around. In fact, we want stickiness. We don’t want to be the Death Star, where people speed in on highways, park their cars, then speed away after the game. We want to be something more like Fenway or CenturyLink Field in Seattle. We want commerce and connections. We WANT congestion.

    In a way, it’s really great that Steve Blow wrote this. As the rest of the city DOES move forward with this conversation, those of us who are intrigued by the idea of tearing down the highway can point to Blow and ask, “Are you with that guy, or are you with us?” Sunnyvale or Dallas? Pick one.

  • WalkableDFW

    On the one side, Steve Blow. On the other, every major business leader in the city who believes this needs to be taken seriously. Well, he wanted to be the contrarian. There ya go.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    Reading…… reading some more….. standing up…. applauding….

    Mr. Simek, take a bow!

    I can only dream of penning something that on point.

  • Bizarro Big Tex

    Does this mean my Dallas brethren do not welcome my forays to shop at downtown Neimans, walk North Park, or dine in the Bishop Arts District? Living 60 miles from city center, major traffic arteries allow me easy access to the places I want to go. If I now have to navigate a web of city boulevards after the New Age road re-alignment, no thanks. Will confine myself to Cowtown.

    • Tim Rogers

      No, no. Cowtown to Dallas is a trip that needs a highway. Just don’t take that highway and use it to tie a noose around downtown Dallas.

    • DonutsTony

      You do not need to I-345 from Ft. Worth to get to any of those places you mentioned.

    • WalkableDFW

      It’s more about getting a percentage of local trips out of the car, which today stands around 96% by making room for density to occur (which the market wants, just see the prices in uptown) within infrastructure that is suitable to density. Otherwise, that demand for density will continue to compete for space not built for it, like Bishop Arts and Lower Greenville, that are designed as local neighborhood centers, not large regional attractions. The sad part is we have so little supply of walkable places that the little local centers become regional centers. Then we have conflict between the neighborhoods and the amount of parking coming their way.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    Fantastic column, Mr. Simek.

    Take a bow; your parents would be very proud of you!

  • Wylie H Dallas

    Reading this column just caused my IQ to go up by at least a couple of points.

  • WalkableDFW

    He added in the comments that his plan for the piece was to tell me why it was a bad idea and then allow me to offer other ideas for how to improve walkability. Sorry to disappoint, but I had other plans.

    First, you can’t separate those two issues nor address the problem that Baylor, Deep Ellum, and downtown all need housing but the development economics don’t work unless there is significant public subsidy on the order of 30% of project funding. The demand is missing because it is being actively exported to the suburbs. Because that value and tax base is exported out of the city proper, we can’t afford to subsidize every project without a plan for how to ratchet down that public participation number (and it really ought not be higher than 15% or so). If the public % is high or it isn’t coming down, cities aren’t doing the right things to get their “market-oriented development” market-oriented.

    Second, it isn’t my job to write his column and give him ideas. I figured he couldn’t fill 800 words with a cogent thesis against. We staked out all aesthetic, rational, and logical grounds leaving only the illogical, the irrational, and fearful.

    I do have ideas for all over the city and the entire metroplex. People pay me for those. People pay him to write columns, mostly composed of one sentence paragraphs. I’m proud of my work.

  • DonutsTony

    Thank you Peter. This was beautiful. I hope that this will bring more people to the idea.

  • Jeffrey Weiss

    “Traffic behaves like a gas, not like a liquid, which is to say, traffic doesn’t exist independently of the roads it travels on, but rather it fills volumes that it is allowed to fill.” So those 180k drivers will somehow dissipate the trips they’d been taking like steam into the air? I’m not claiming to be a traffic engineer, but my experience is that traffic behaves *exactly* like a liquid in the short term. When one route is blocked, the cars flood other streets. Over a long enough period of time new “rivers” are established. And/or drivers choose paths of less resistance and go places where they can get to faster. Which may not be a Good Thing for whatever their prior destinations were. For those drivers whose destinations are predetermined — workplaces, homes — they end up sitting in longer commutes. Not a hypothetical for me. When the easy access to Central from Chavez Boulevard was eliminated, it added some time to my occasional commute north from downtown. Whether or not there was justification to kill that access based on other reasons or factors, I’m not qualified to say. But I can’t see that the drivers who used it dissipated like a gas.

  • Ed Woodson

    How about Allen to fair park? A more over burdened mixmaster for that? Or just several miles of side streets?

  • BradfordPearson

    Getting off at the Haskell exit on 75 adds one (1) minute to that trip. And it has zero traffic.

  • Tim Rogers

    I would love it if Mark Lamster would jump in here and tell us honestly how he feels to have his byline appear in the same newspaper with Steve Blow’s.

  • Ed Woodson

    You do realize that, once highway routes are gone, formerly low traffic side streets won’t be low traffic anymore, right?

  • WalkableDFW

    A certain percentage of trips do indeed evaporate, about 25% based on measurable data of other highway capacity reductions. Also, every great city in the world breaks down the single “big pipe” infrastructure into many “smaller pipes” facilitating local trips and social/economic exchange. The “big pipe” when left to run through the dense, urban areas of town disrupts those local connections and devalues local economies. The value of proximity no longer matters. The result is high infrastructure cost with low tax base. And we wonder why we have trouble maintaining our roads? We need density in and around the core.

  • BradfordPearson

    I do, but your thesis that this is an overwhelming burden is flawed. It’s two miles of Haskell.

  • WalkableDFW

    We should trust in TxDOT. If left to their own devices, they would’ve built this:
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gKOB0EXDIFk/Uv0SJ-osb3I/AAAAAAAAE2Y/HOd0_jfFq8s/s1600/yellow+4.jpg

    In reality, Dallas has fought TxDOT on virtually every highway through the city. Some of those battles were won. Some were compromised and the highways destructive effects were slightly mitigated. Some were built as they intended, like 345. Where TxDOT was most successful tended to be in low income areas.

    The Harlem Theater was removed to make way for 345 construction:
    http://dallaslibrary2.org/texas/photogallery/images/lost/pa85-16-35.jpg

    • Alexander

      I like your line that is something along the lines of, ‘we’d never let them build it now, so why bother to fix it?’

      Blow totally skipped the part where we will have to spend some money. The question is of how to spend it.

  • DickSully

    If you don’t want to live in Dallas proper, then you need to make your own city center.

  • Bill

    Ed, yes he does! That’s Bradford’s point. Please use the underutilized existing surface streets on your next or any visit. You don’t need I-345 nor does Dallas.

  • Zac Crain

    As is your right, EdW. But we should probably make the best decision here for Dallas and the people who live here. And you’ll still be able to get around. You’ll still be able to come here for work/fun. It won’t be as much of a problem as you fear.

  • DDunlap

    Walkable, when will ANewDallas have “Tear It Down” yard signs, t-shirts, and stickers I can buy from the website to show my support? Also, does ANewDallas plan to have a Dallas citizen signature page?

  • Ed Woodson

    I think your argument doesn’t apply as universally as you believe. Outer Dallas (ie an area still part of the same electorate) would share many of my same concerns. I do appreciate your argument on these grounds however. The concept of minimal traffic impact smacks of fairy dust. There will be material traffic impacts. Some traffic will route to side streets. Some will move to an already overburdened 635. And some will disappear (because it won’t be worth the effort). Hopefully your increase in tax base from new development will offset lost business due to inconvenience.

  • Alexander

    Traffic gets pretty backed up now during big Fair Park events, you should be using Haskell anyway.

  • Zac Crain

    If “fairy dust” means facts, figures, photos, financial spreadsheets, and easily studied examples from other cities that have done the same exact thing to their benefit without throwing everything into chaos and causing a massive drop in population and citizen morale, then, yes, it does smack of fairy dust.

    People fear change, Ed. It’s OK.

  • Ed Woodson

    Thanks for the condescension. I know my feeble engineering degree leaves me unable to decipher fancy math. If you talk everything the walkable dfw people at face value, that doesn’t strike me as very journalistic, but maybe that’s just me. The walkable dfw person has actually said in their comments that 25% of traffic does simply dissipate. That is the traffic lost to inconvenience that I mentioned.

  • WalkableDFW

    Both of those two things are in the works to some varying degree. Unfortunately, we’re all volunteers with day jobs 🙁

  • WalkableDFW

    I can’t take credit for that line. I have to admit that I borrowed it from a local business executive who asked that question when I was pitching it to him in a much more complicated way. He immediately distilled the message to that highly effective sound bite.

  • Bizarro Big Tex

    Not to throw kerosene on a growing fire, but the possible Trinity Super Duper Expressway will help me enjoy the Trinity Bottoms how? And I’m still waiting to kayak the rapids. Seemed appropriate to question tearing one concrete behemoth down when another is on the drawing boards. Paradox.

  • WalkableDFW

    those low traffic streets could use more traffic. traffic, when calmed, equals investment. Investment equals more local amenities and destinations. More local amenities and destinations equals shorter trip length and less car travel. Less car travel on city streets means the talk of traffic counts is actually irrelevant. Anyway, an average peak hour speed of 27 mph up on 345 isn’t much better for the driver while being far more destructive to the city than 25 mph on 4 or 5 north-south corridors.

    This isn’t an engineering problem. We can engineer and build anything we want. Therefore it’s a political and economic problem.

  • WalkableDFW

    It’s not “traffic lost to inconvenience.” It’s already inconvenient. The entire city is now low density because we’re all equally and poorly interconnected. The value of proximity has been undermined by transpo infrastructure inappropriate to core cities. It’s the market adapting to the reward of more efficient trips. That means more proximity, more density, and lowered necessity for vehicular travel. Lowered vehicular travel means less cars on the roads, more people getting around through MORE convenient other forms of travel.

  • Anonymous

    Or, you just take 635 around to 30 and come in that way.

  • Dubious Brother

    Allen to Fair Park? Drive to Parker Road Station and take the Red line or the Orange line to downtown Dallas and transfer to the Green line which will take you right to Fair Park.

  • Anonymous

    Some of them get rerouted to other connectors and some of them go away.

    If this one goes away, traffic doesn’t just clog up at the entrances to 375. Southbound traffic on 75 goes straight to Woodall Rogers and over to 35. Northbound traffic on 45 goes to 30. Yes, there are more cars in the mixmaster, but the mixmaster is ready for its own revamp (the whole Project Pegasus) and taking away those junctions would mean that the remaining junctions would have fewer choices and could be redesigned for higher speed and capacity.

    — Phelps

  • Ed Woodson

    The problem is those North / South corridors (particularly on the North side). Within the loop there are 3. All three converge on downtown. There is one East / West corridor. Currently, some NS traffic flows past the city to the East, and some to the West. You want to force that traffic entirely onto the West side, from which it will either continue South, or move onto 30. You are absolutely correct that it is currently inconvenient. It will be much more so under the new scenario. I predict the net result will be a lovely cloister of improved development /gentrification immediately to the East of downtown, further movement of downtown tenants into Uptown (a more convenient business location for North Dallas residents), and greater issues for CBD commercial landlords. You will end up not with a highway closing the noose on the East side, but rather a traffic dead zone between North and South

  • Aren Cambre

    It’s a fight between two journalists over a proposal from an idealist anti-car bigot. Wow, fun!

    For a publication that has taken Blow to task repeatedly, it’s ironic that their response is bloviation and opinion masquerading as fact.

    Seriously, major flaws in Simek’s arguments include but are not limited to:
    – Failure to acknowledge that this is a sweeping change from American-style transportation thinking (highways for inner-city convenience) to European-style thinking (highways mainly for city-to-city only). Not in favor of such a drastic experiment starting in Dallas.

    – Failure to acknowledge that roads do not “create” congestion. Congestion may follow because of the economic development and lifestyle choices not previously feasible. Just because a road enables something does not make it evil or undesirable. That’s provincial thinking.

    – Employment of silly, old notions about highways destroying everything, when in fact highways were often conveniently situated in paths of least resistance where there was already ROW, that were natural breaking points between parts of town, etc.. Yes, there are exceptions (Park Row just south of downtown, e.g.), but that’ it—they are exceptions. There are plenty of areas that have not been destroyed by presence of highways, like Park Cities, which has highways on both sides.

    – “exportation of the value of urban cores out to speculatively-developed communities on the ever-receding fringes of urban sprawl” Oh, come on, again, how elitist. Rather, it’s making it easier for people to live the American dream. Just because the way they do it (suburbs and commuting) isn’t the way I do it (suburban-style but inner-city and 15 minute drive to work) doesn’t make them evil nor does it make me superior. It’s just difference in choice. Let’s stop castigating our fellow Americans over rational choices.

    – “TxDOT’s insistence on sustaining this highway-centric development model only perpetuates an economic model that turns city centers into a mix of blight and high-end development” BS. Has much more to do with prior paragraph. If people want to move back in, they will do it, and it’s been happening for a couple of decades now in Dallas. Celebrate it and incentivize it, but absolutely unacceptable and, frankly, dystopian to force this lifestyle on people by intentionally making life difficult for people who do not have a lifestyle you approve of, as the anti-car bigots are doing.

    – “Of course he didn’t ask himself why these developments are happening 30 years after the connector highway was built” Because downtown redevelopment has been slowly creeping east, you moron!

    – “I-345 is a delineation that creates two distinct real estate submarkets on either side of the highway.” Wrong. It’s a coincidence of the way downtown and east Dallas has developed that I-345 delineates that. Again, freeways are often put in natural divisions. This is yet another one. As Jim said earlier, there was a major highway here. The left exit when you go southbound US 75 is the way everyone had to go years ago, down to surface streets for a few miles before hitting the old Central Expressway, which is now US-175 and TX-310.

    -“Blow uses the exaggerated 200,000 number” It’s not made up! It appears in TxDOT’s latest traffic count map from 2012, before this teardown even gained traction. Go to page 8 of http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/…/traffic…/2012/dal_base.pdf.

  • Ed Woodson

    How many extra miles is that. 10?

  • WalkableDFW

    I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret. Do you know where traffic projections come from? This chart:
    http://cdn.theatlanticcities.com/img/upload/2014/01/22/VMT-C-P-chart-big_.png

    The trend lines represent FHWA projections of future vehicle miles traveled by various year. The thick black line represents what has actually occurred and continues to do so. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they steadfastly continued to project increases in VMT. We build roads we don’t need, in case you were wondering where the inertia is built-in to the system. A new world requires new ways of thinking.

    • Aren Cambre

      You truly believe that these simplistic, linear projections, issued in short succession, were really intended for multi-decdal traffic planning purposes?

      What is the source of these projections, by the way?

  • Aren Cambre

    “The entire city is now low density because we’re all equally and poorly interconnected.” Um, yeah… And it has nothing to do with the American dream or peoples’ desire for their own land and single-family, detached homes?

  • Pegaso

    Not to mention his “better ideas”, which he describes in the comments section. One of them is to close down Main Street to vehicles at night and park some food trucks on each end. BRAVO, Steve, you found the solution to downtown’s problems! Who would’ve thought all we needed was a couple of food trucks??

  • Aren Cambre

    …which adds how much more time to my trip? Is my time invaluable?

  • Aren Cambre

    Then create walkable places, but don’t do it by inflicting misery on the rest of the population by inducing congestion. See, there’s the core problem with your thesis (well, besides all the magical thinking and unicorn farts that’s influencing this): European-style traffic planning, where instead of being responsive to the public, they dictate to the public.

  • Ed Woodson

    But you are advocating going from 2 pipes around downtown to one (only via 35 on the West side). And there are no other “pipes” in your proposal to counter the effect. Just traffic light filled side streets.

  • Alexander

    No ones taking your yard Cambre. 345 isn’t exactly helping your mobility or your Lake Park property values.

  • Aren Cambre
  • Ed Woodson

    Ok. Let’s do project Pegasus. If it creates excess capacity then we tear down 345 and use it. Let’s not tear down the one alternative to 35, and thrown even more volume onto 35. Common sense would argue that you do the 35 construction while you have an alternate route in place (WR to 345)

  • Alexander

    You don’t live in Allen. Don’t play this game, Cambre. Your current option is to take a 12 minute drive down surface streets from your house to the Fair or a 32 minute walk and then ride on the 60 bus. That options weighs time vs parking costs, not convenience. It’s an entirely different calculus.

  • Aren Cambre

    It’s a fight between two journalists over a proposal from an idealist anti-car bigot. Wow, fun! But for a publication that has taken Blow to task repeatedly, it’s ironic that their response is bloviation and opinion masquerading as fact.

    Seriously, major flaws in Simek’s arguments include but are not limited to:

    – Failure to acknowledge that this is a sweeping change from American-style transportation thinking (highways for inner-city convenience) to European-style thinking (highways mainly for city-to-city only). Not in favor of such a drastic experiment starting in Dallas.

    – Failure to acknowledge that roads do not “create” congestion. Congestion may follow because of the economic development and lifestyle choices not previously feasible. Just because a road enables something does not make it evil or undesirable. That’s provincial thinking.

    – Employment of silly, old notions about highways destroying everything, when in fact highways were often conveniently situated in paths of least resistance where there was already ROW, that were natural breaking points between parts of town, etc.. Yes, there are exceptions (Park Row just south of downtown, e.g.), but that’ it—they are exceptions. There are plenty of areas that have not been destroyed by presence of highways, like Park Cities, which has highways on both sides.

    – “exportation of the value of urban cores out to speculatively-developed communities on the ever-receding fringes of urban sprawl” Oh, come on, again, how elitist. Rather, it’s making it easier for people to live the American dream. Just because the way they do it (suburbs and commuting) isn’t the way I do it (suburban-style but inner-city and 15 minute drive to work) doesn’t make them evil nor does it make me superior. It’s just difference in choice. Let’s stop castigating our fellow Americans over rational choices.

    – “TxDOT’s insistence on sustaining this highway-centric development model only perpetuates an economic model that turns city centers into a mix of blight and high-end development” BS. Has much more to do with prior paragraph. If people want to move back in, they will do it, and it’s been happening for a couple of decades now in Dallas. Celebrate it and incentivize it, but absolutely unacceptable and, frankly, dystopian to force this lifestyle on people by intentionally making life difficult for people who do not have a lifestyle you approve of, as the anti-car bigots are doing.

    – “Of course he didn’t ask himself why these developments are happening 30 years after the connector highway was built” Because downtown redevelopment has been slowly creeping east!

    – “I-345 is a delineation that creates two distinct real estate submarkets on either side of the highway.” Wrong. It’s a coincidence of the way downtown and east Dallas has developed that I-345 delineates that. Again, freeways are often put in natural divisions. This is yet another one. As Jim said earlier, there was a major highway here. The left exit when you go southbound US 75 is the way everyone had to go years ago, down to surface streets for a few miles before hitting the old Central Expressway, which is now US-175 and TX-310.

    -“Blow uses the exaggerated 200,000 number” It’s not made up! It appears in TxDOT’s latest traffic count map from 2012, before this teardown even gained traction. Go to page 8 of http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/…/traffic…/2012/dal_base.pdf.

    • WalkableDFW

      You get the kind and amount of traffic that you want. Do we want 200,000 cars on 345? Do we want 400,000 cars on 75? That is what their projections lead to, until the breaking point between infrastructure cost/tax base/local economies. The end-state of that game is Detroit.

      Uptown Dallas has the highest real estate values in the metro. It’s also the most walkable places due to pent-up demand for walkability. The market is always right, yes?

      Please address $$$.

    • Wylie H Dallas

      Suburban sprawl is heavily subsidized through costly expansion of public infrastructure.

      For example, the Dallas North Tollway is one of the key arteries connecting North Dallas and downtown. It was financed via bonds that were paid off years ago, and it now generates tens of millions of profit annually. The NTTA uses those profits to subsidize money-losing toll roads stretching for out into rural areas, which are then converted into very large, low density, speculative single-family residential developments.

      The tolls that Dallas residents and employees pay to NTTA for the privilege of using the Dallas North Tollway are effectively a tax, the proceeds of which are used to subsidize the viability of far flung suburban communities which then seek to compete with Dallas for residents, jobs and economic activity.

  • Jeffrey Weiss

    So 75% does not go away. Which would make traffic substantially worse in the short/medium run for the alternate routes.

    I’ve driven and been driven in cities elsewhere in the world. Advantages and disadvantages to all kinds of places. But London/Tel Aviv/Rome for instance, are none of them my idea of a traffic solution for Dallas.

    You have a chicken and egg problem. A locally, centered system of transportation works well when there is a lively local center. Not so well, otherwise. So for the short run — decade or more? — the change you would like to see would likely make worse the quality of life for a lot of people.

    In the long run, if and only if you’re right, the folks around at that point might want to thank you. But it’s not hardly a sure bet.

    What you want to do is use the traffic planning arm of government to change the calculus of the choices people make about where to live, where to work, and how to get there. Maybe so, recognizing that the current calculus was set in part by prior decisions by the traffic planners. But social engineering is a lot less certain than structural design. And as a political reality, you’re swimming upstream. Which doesn’t necessarily make it wrong, but it does make it harder.

  • Aren Cambre

    “we should probably make the best decision here for Dallas and the people who live here.” That includes not thumbing our nose at our neighbors, who travel into Dallas to work and shop. Remember Dallas at the Tipping Point from ~10 years ago and subsequent analyses? We’re gradually losing jobs to the suburbs as commuting patterns shift. Inducing massive congestion on US 75, all in the name of a wild-ass experiment–what do you think that will do to all our northern neighbors coming here to work?

  • Aren Cambre

    “No ones taking your yard Cambre. 345 isn’t exactly helping your mobility or your Lake Park property values.” Being in an inner-city neighborhood, inducing misery on commuters may help my property values, assuming it doesn’t incentivize businesses to flee downtown. But acting in that motivation would be misanthropic, which I am not.

  • Aren Cambre

    “You don’t live in Allen. Don’t play this game, Cambre.” Sorry, I’m not following your logic. So people who live in the ‘burbs are worthless twits who have no place at the table for a major decision that affects the regional transportation network? No, I don’t buy that. This is a state-run federal highway built in line with normal American transportation policy; it’s not a provincial matter only for Dallas citizens.

  • WalkableDFW

    Was it not dictated to the public when the highways were built through cities in the first place and neighborhoods were destroyed? Perhaps you have forgotten the fights between Dallas and TxDOT over every single one of those freeways. Or the highway riots throughout the country.

    Nobody is inflicting anything here. This represents the public visioning process that TxDOT did not include in their ‘public’ feasibility study.

  • Ed Woodson

    The references to the bus and light rail as alternatives post-highway destruction are great. What percentage of people impacted by the changes would even consider those options? More fairy dust.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    Rudy Bush, a refreshing voice of reason at the Dallas Morning News, weighs in:

    http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/03/lets-keep-talking-about-tearing-down-i-345.html

  • Zac Crain

    See, but that’s still built around the idea that we would be “inducing massive congestion on US 75,” or that this is a “wild-ass experiment.” Other people and cities have done the experimenting. We stand to reap the benefit from the work that has already happened.

    There will still be highways to get to Dallas, and arterials to get them where they need to go once they’re here. I’m not thumbing my nose at anyone. OK, maybe Ed a little bit, and I would have apologized if I could have replied directly to his comment.

  • JtB

    I love the idea of closing down Main Street. It’s a great idea to eat some food truck tacos, get really wasted on craft beer at some new bar. Then, hop on I – 345 back to Frisco. ….Hopefully going the right direction.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    Suburban sprawl is heavily subsidized through costly expansion of public infrastructure.

    The Dallas North Tollway is one of the key arteries connecting North Dallas and downtown. It was financed via bonds that were paid off years ago and it now generates tens of millions of profit each year. The NTTA uses those profits to subsidize money-losing toll roads out into open farmland, which is then converted into very low density single-family residential developments.

    The tolls that Dallas residents and employees pay to NTTA for the privilege of using the Dallas North Tollway are effectively a tax, the proceeds of which are used to subsidize the creation of far flung suburban communities which then seek to compete with Dallas.

  • Ed Woodson

    Causation vs. correlation. Uptown also has modern-style mixed-use developments immediately adjacent to a CBD, ready access to highways, and is easily accessible from North Dallas. It being walkable is nice but there is a lot more to it. It also in not representative of the city as a whole. Its mostly affluent, young, professional types. Give them 10 years and almost all will move to the Park Cities, North Dallas, Plano, and points North. And its going to stay that way until they perceive (rightly or wrongly) that DISD (outside of the magnet schools) is a good alternative to the burbs. If that is your target market you have a limit on how demand for similar development. And you have a long, slow fight ahead of you in your battle for greater urban density and the benefits associated therewith.

    This entire issue is honestly mind boggling to me. Whose interests are being served? This isn’t like advocating development for South Dallas, where jobs are needed desperately. This is a combination of (1) trying to realize what some people believe is the better way to live (dense urban populations vs. suburban sprawl); and (2) arguable higher tax bases from new development. All at the cost of ease of transportation.

    Is that sense, Steve Blow is correct (and I say that while wincing). If this goes to a popular vote, good luck. Explaining to people that the new development will be great, and don’t worry, us knocking down highways won’t have any material impact on your commutes…that isn’t going to fly. I doubt you really want a popular vote though. City Councils and the like are usually more tractable.

  • JtB

    Blow: “But since you ask, I’ll give you one of my ideas: Close downtown’s Main Street to car traffic in the evenings. Make it a pedestrian zone with sidewalk restaurants and bars. Allow food trucks alongside the parks at each end.”

    At least he is supporting closing some roads. But then apparently enticing people to get wasted so that they can climb back on I – 345 back to Frisco. …. hopefully on the correct side of the highway.

  • Ernest Camus

    You really don’t know about European-style traffic planning. The government is so afraid of it’s citizens that they dare not mess up or they’ll have a cubic mile of asphalt in their front yard. If this were France, Patrick Kennedy have blocked the damn road off with protests, leaflets, social unrest, etc., without end until a consensus was built. Consensus looking something like this: either you tear the fucking thing down, or my friends will. That’s how things get done in Europe because they are not pussies like we are when it comes civic or governmental manners.

  • Aren Cambre

    Guess who’s paying most of the gas taxes or tolls that fund these roads? Those that drive the bulk of the miles, which is generally not those of us who live in and work in Dallas.

    That aside, if you can find ways that close-in motorists are are shouldering the costs of commuter-centric tranportation development, I am all about discussing ways to correct that.

  • Aren Cambre

    Ed Woodson, you are by far the most astute commenter on this whole article. Thank you for contributing.

  • TheSlowPath

    Your last paragraph is spot on. Every road alignment, from an alleyway to a super highway, changes the lifestyle mathematics of how and where people want to live. What the ANewDallas proponents are suggesting is that the current model has strained the resources of both the city and the state. We need a new math. Luckily, there are lots of other examples where the math works differently. We can choose a different model and engineer it to our situation.

    Your second point is that this is not a structural problem, but a social, economic, and political one. We agree! And it is going to be really hard to change a lot of minds about something that is, for many (especially Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers), counter-intuitive. But the hard things are the most fun!

  • Aren Cambre

    “You get the kind and amount of traffic that you want. Do we want 200,000 cars on 345? Do we want 400,000 cars on 75? That is what their projections lead to, until the breaking point between infrastructure cost/tax base/local economies. The end-state of that game is Detroit.” The traffic levels will at some point peak–who knows where, but 400,000? Where did you pull that from!?–as increasing travel misery exceeds the value of commuting. That is VERY DIFFERENT than intentionally tearing out a critical part of a transportation network to INDUCE misery and congestion.

    Look, dude, I like the walkable neighborhoods and, in theory, a lot of the stuff you’re talking about. But I put my foot down on inducing misery, on taking deliberate actions to thumb your nose at people who do not live a lifestyle you approve. That’s bigotry.

  • Ed Woodson

    No worries. My responsive comment was bad too, for which I return the apology (too much ice-induced babysitting). I’m actually fine with the public policy arguments. I don’t agree with much of the “Walkable DFW” goals (too much vision with too little deference to existing DFW lifestyles), but I’m happy to debate that with a smile on my face.

    I do have real issues with the concept of “minimal traffic impact”. While the experiences of other cities provide data, cities are very unique. Dallas has significant existing traffic issues that may not mirror those from other locales. The gas vs. liquid analogies finally made my head explode, as it added a veneer of science to a statement that was utterly unscientific. The same engineering concepts apply to both. Having looked at their site, and reviewed their studies, I don’t see anything particularly compelling. I’m happy to debate that too. I would just caution everyone to take the traffic rhetoric with a big grain of salt. I don’t detect any skepticism from anyone on the D staff, and that worries me.

    If, however, you came to your conclusions after grilling the “New Dallas’ people (preferably with someone more knowledgeable regarding traffic flow than Steve Blow at your side), that would make me, as a reader, a lot more comfortable.

  • Aren Cambre

    “Other people and cities have done the experimenting.”

    I don’t agree. The examples I am aware of are not apples to apples comparisons. Where have critical, long-standing, high-volume, downtown Interstate highway links, that exist in the context of a badly-congested highway network of a very large metro area, been ripped out and not replaced with equivalent capacity?

    E.g., Embarcadero Freeway. That had 1/3 of I-345’s AADT.

  • Jim Rain

    This is EXCELLENT. As clear-minded as Patrick Kennedy’s thinking is, his writing is not always equally to his ideas. But this analysis is so cogent and so easy to follow that I’d hope anyone could at least begin to consider the arguments in favor of ripping out I-345. Thank you, Peter Simek.

    Steve Blow, Mike Rawlings, James Bass — Please read and consider.

  • Aren Cambre

    It’s provincial thinking, a first cousin of the parichocialism that keeps stymieing improvements and use of White Rock Lake Park.

  • Aren Cambre

    “Was it not dictated to the public when the highways were built through cities in the first place and neighborhoods were destroyed?” Plenty of examples where this didn’t happen. E.g., north of downtown, Central Expressway was built on a railroad right of way. Dallas North Tollway, railroad rigth of way again. Oh, and Park Cities–is it being strangled and choked by high-AADT freeways on both sides?

  • Aren Cambre

    “Nobody is inflicting anything here. This represents the public visioning process that TxDOT did not include in their ‘public’ feasibility study.”

    If I-345 is removed, that is an act of inflicting misery on motorists. Your angle on this “public visioning process” is advocating this inflicitng of misery.

  • Aren Cambre

    “What you want to do is use the traffic planning arm of government to change the calculus of the choices people make about where to live, where to work, and how to get there.” BINGO!

    As I put it more directly, it’s anti-motorist bigotry. Some people flatly don’t approve of lifestyles that are enabled by private, personal transportation, and they are using public policy to force their view on the metro area. I call that elitism.

  • Jim Rain

    According to Google Maps, it’s a 35-minute drive from Allen to Fair Park via Central, and 40 minutes via LBJ and Garland Road. So it would add five minutes to your trip.

  • Jim Rain

    There are other “pipes” — a primary one being LBJ. The damage comes from putting intercity pipes through the middle of town. If you push intercity traffic to the edges, it makes a negligible time difference. For instance, it adds 3 minutes to the Allen to Houston trip if a driver uses LBJ instead of Centeral/I-345/I-45 through the center of town.

  • Jim Rain

    There are other “pipes” — a primary one being LBJ. The damage comes from putting intercity pipes through the middle of town. If you push intercity traffic to the edges, it makes a negligible time difference. For instance, per Google Maps, it adds 3 minutes to the Allen to Houston trip if a driver uses LBJ instead of Centeral/I-345/I-45 through the center of town.

  • Jim Rain

    There are other “pipes” — a primary one being LBJ. The damage comes from putting intercity pipes through the middle of town. If you push intercity traffic to the edges, it makes a negligible time difference. For instance, per Google Maps, it adds 3 minutes to the Allen to Houston trip if a driver uses LBJ instead of Central/I-345/I-45 through the center of town.

  • Jim Rain

    This is EXCELLENT. As clear-minded as Patrick Kennedy’s thinking is, his writing is not always as clear as his ideas. But this analysis is so cogent and easy to follow that I’d hope anyone could at least begin to consider the arguments in favor of ripping out I-345. Thank you, Peter Simek.

    Steve Blow, Mike Rawlings, James Bass — Please read and consider.

  • Alexander

    You wrote “my trip”. I’m saying don’t get indigent because it’s not “your trip”. People Who live along north Central have multiple modes as options currently. You don’t really.

    It’s crazy that the best the pro highway people can come up with is the 60 extra seconds to Fair Park. Yeah, its a real good use of millions of dollars to save them 60 seconds on their biennial trip to Fair Park.

  • Alexander

    Aren, You consider your self pretty libertarian and pro-free market, right? How can you favor an endless government subsidy of an underused road over turning that land over to the private market and the invisible hand?

    I have a map of Dallas from the 40s, there is no 345 type road on the map because the free market didn’t want it there. Moreover, the government forcefully took peoples homes, their ‘American Dream’, to build 345. Why is that not the outrage?

    We would never build 345 today, but it need millions of your tax dollars to repair or reconfigure it, asap. So does’t that raise the question of why fix it? Why not just let it come down and let the free market react? The free market could very well decide to come in and build a new toll-road, but I think we would all be surprised if that happened.

  • Alexander

    Aren, Patrick is not saying that we should tear down all of our highways– he is saying that this one, short, road is underused and not necessary for our system. We are at a crossroads where we HAVE to spend money on it, should we not look at it and ask if its a money pit or not?

    If the road is torn down, and the land given to the free market as Patrick suggests, the city of Dallas WILL have more resources and a larger tax base– even if someone buys the land and sits on it at least it will return to the tax rolls. The feds aren’t giving us anything for it now. We can then choose to lower our tax rates, or more likely, actually start to fix some of the $900M in repairs we currently need. Isn’t that smarter?

    345 only makes convent connections for people bypassing downtown along 45 or 75 inside Loop 12. Everyone else is better off taking a different route anyway, that they don’t currently is not a big deal. This isn’t Agenda 21 trying to make you ride a bike to your 1 bedroom condo. This is free market capitalism at it’s best. Let’s get government out of our way and build the city the free market wants.

  • Ed Woodson

    I was specifically talking about the downtown vicinity. All traffic will either have to route through 35 or dump into downtown.

    As for your outer “pipes”, can 635 handle the traffic? If it can, it will be more than 3 minutes given the new traffic. 345 also handles a huge amount of traffic. Far more than the “a new dallas” examples. shifted traffic would move either to a stressed 635, or a nightmarishly stressed 35. Bad situations all.

  • Ed Woodson

    this isn’t a blank slate. there are people who rely on that road right now. There are also a few million more people here than in the 40s. Libertarian does mean “tear it all down and start from scratch”.

  • Brian

    Peter Simek you’re an A**hole! You must think yourself so superior. What kind of jerk spends the first 1/3 of his article slamming one personal attack after another before making any point about what the author says. You’re a lousy journalist. Someone at D should show you the door.

  • Alexander

    Ed,

    Libertarian does think that limited access roads are only viable if they can be successfully tolled. Do you think 345 could work as a tollroad?

  • Ed Woodson

    This entire argument is based on the premise that the road is underused. If significantly underused, I might agree. I find that difficult to digest, however, based on the various traffic studies referenced so far, and my own personal experience.

    Other argument here have not focused on underuse, but rather on the theory that the traffic will shift or “disappear”. I discount that argument quite a bit.

    Even if a neutral study backed that up idea of significant underuse, it still makes immense sense to me to wait until after the Pegasus Project is complete, given the compounding impact on the mixmaster. Do you really feel it has to be done NOW given that fact?

  • Alexander

    It has to be done before we spend any money fixing it. If we can do pegasus first, i’m all for that.

    BTW playing around on Google maps I can’t find a trip that this adds more than 6 minutes to. The 6 minute extra trips are having to go all the way around LBJ from the High Five to I-45 at LBJ (that’s 6 extra minutes compared to taking 345 and if you were okay getting off the highway and taking Chavez, it’s only 4 minutes). Trips inside LBJ add between 1 and 3 minutes. And those are the often used WW Samuell to Ford Field or the VA to NorthPark.

  • Ed Woodson

    Just three points. New traffic patterns mean new time estimates. And do that at rush hour, and see if google maps has longer estimates. Average traffic is meaningless. It’s all about peak traffic. Finally, I think there has to be a way to more cheaply get 5 years out of the highway, if necessary.

  • Jim Rain

    A higher tax base from greater density inside Dallas’ city limits one way to fund Dallas’ infrastructure needs. $900 million is a lot of lettuce. Should Dallas promote projects that suck property taxes out to Plano and Allen? Those towns could adopt “I drink your milkshake” as their motto.

  • penisvanlesbian

    Maybe this author can use his breakdown of Blow’s hot air to demonstrate how the GOP and DNC treat Libertarians. It’s pretty much the exactly the same.

  • Dubious Brother

    I am old enough to remember when I-30 was a toll road to Ft. Worth. When it was paid for, the toll booths came down.
    I remember when the toll from NW Hwy. to downtown was a quarter. When that road was paid for, the toll was doubled to help pay for the extension to the suburbs. I am not sure what it is now.
    Dallas residents pay DART taxes to pay for systems that bring commuters in from the suburbs.

  • WalkableDFW

    Gasoline taxes, tolls, and user fees pay for less than 50% of our roads and highways
    http://www.frontiergroup.org/sites/default/files/reports/Do-Roads-Pay-for-Themselves_-wUS.pdf

    Return on Investment in highway spending is approaching 0 to 1, a sure sign of overshoot:
    http://transportationist.org/2013/01/09/transportation_benefits_too_li/

  • Jim Rain

    A higher tax base from greater density inside Dallas is one way to fund Dallas’ infrastructure needs. $900 million is a lot of lettuce. Should Dallas promote projects that suck property taxes out to Plano and Allen? Those towns could adopt “I drink your milkshake” as their motto.

  • vseslav botkin

    For those counting, Aren has used the word “misery” seven times so far. But he really loves driving!

  • Aren Cambre

    Different argument for a different day. We’re not talking about building a new highway, we’re talking about preserving an existing one. Also, I am more than happy to talk about ways to make sure roads are funded by their users, but that, too, is a different argument for a different day.

    BTW, I do not agree the Frontier Group’s take on taxes vs. fee. Furthermore, their conclusions depend on a lot of opinions, like how we’re somehow giving motorists a free ride because gasoline is subject to gax tax instead of sales tax. I guess all those shoppers of groceries, medicines, and essentials are getting a free ride, too? Plus a key assumption that’s patently absurd: “The amount of money a particular driver pays in gasoline taxes bears little relationship to his or her use of roads funded by gas taxes.” “little relationship”!?!?! I can buy into “imperfect relationship”, but to use “little relationship” as a key premise is absurd! I could go on, but like Simek’s article, this report is unsound opinion masquerading as fact.

  • Aren Cambre

    “People Who live along north Central have multiple modes as options currently.” Not if they value their time. Again, why do you act as if everyone’s time has no value? Do you really think I want to spend an hour on a train to avoid a 15 minute drive?

    Also, where does your “60 seconds longer” proposition come from?

  • Aren Cambre

    I appreciate your perspective. I am talking about the transportation planning models as conveyed in traffic engineering 101 textbooks, which has two steps reversed between traditional American and European models. In a nutshell, the reversal of the steps means conventional American transportation planning responds to the need, whereas conventional European planning dictates or plans out the need. And it appears that American traffic planning models are moving closer to the textbook European-style models. But, again, this is just textbook stuff, so your perspective is interesting.

  • Aren Cambre

    “How can you favor an endless government subsidy of an underused road over turning that land over to the private market and the invisible hand?” There are valid uses of eminent domain for public goods. I am not a Libertarian, by the way.

    “I have a map of Dallas from the 40s, there is no 345 type road on the map because the free market didn’t want it there.” Those were fanciful maps that informed future planning. They are not locked-in-concrete blueprints. In the ’40s, certainly nobody envisioned entire computers worn on our hips, so I guess we should throw those away, too!

    “Why not just let it come down and let the free market react?” If the free market was dictating road uses, then I-345 would come down _after_, not _before_, traffic levels plunged.

  • Aren Cambre

    “this one, short, road is underused” 200K AADT for 6 through-lane highway = underused? Hilarious!

    Core premise blown up. Next?

  • Aren Cambre

    “BTW playing around on Google maps I can’t find a trip that this adds more than 6 minutes to.” Distribute the 200K cars around all these roads. What effect does that have on their congestion?

  • Alexander

    No, it’s an old mapsco.

  • Alexander

    It is under capacity, are you arguing with that? Look up the TXDot numbers.

    Re: your earlier question about 60 seconds, use google maps to plan a trip, drop a pin at the Haskell exit.

  • Dubious Brother

    @Aren Cambre – it is funny to me that in a conversation about eliminating a portion of highway to allow city neighborhoods to grow together, mass transit is treated like an unwanted step-child. IF your time is so valuable, use it on the train as you don’t have to be driving. For example, if you are an attorney, which encompasses most of the people I know who are obsessed with the value of their time, you could easily bill out 4 fifteen minutes segments while riding the train. You could periodically look out the window and smile at the folks backed up on the highway. On the other hand, if this is a trip to fair park as this discussion began with, enjoy the time talking with your family.

  • James the P3

    Stop telling him that. I use Haskell every year to get from Lakewood to Fair Park for the Texas-OU game. I don’t need that route clogged with people who can’t read a map–let them continue to take I-345 to I-30.

  • Ernest Camus

    Gotcha.

  • Ed Woodson

    For better or worse, it is an unwanted stepchild. Light rail has significant limitations (including huge swaths of Dallas not be accessible without also using a bus). The vast majority of Dallas has zero interest in using buses. If your arguments rely materially on use of public transport as a means of ameliorating traffic issues, you have lost the debate. It does help clarify, however, that this debate isn’t just about tearing down a highway to spur development in one local area. Many of the proponents of the concept have loftier goals, namely moving Dallas towards European/Northeast-style urban lifestyles.

  • Buffalo Bil

    I am not a real-estate investor. I live in Oak Cliff, so the project has no immediate impact on the aesthetics of my neighborhood. I am not an “anti-car bigot,” as I use mine on a daily basis. But I support the teardown —- as should every other resident of Dallas — because it simply makes good financial sense. For a 2 mile bridge to deprive the county, city, and DISD of $4 billion off taxable property is simply unjustifiable, given the state of our schools, parks, streets, jails, etc. This is a no-brainer.

  • Todd Fayne

    I’ve followed the I-345 debate rather closely, and I empathize with those who wish to see it go, but agree with Mr. Blow, but not entirely for the same reasons. I-345 not only exists to get people around downtown, but it is part of the master plan of interstate highways. It is a continuous extention of I-45 that has been planned to extend north beyond tulsa to Kansas City at some point.
    I agree that its removal would significantly alter traffic patterns and cars would flow elsewhere, but where? Dallas surface streets aren’t entirely jammed at rush hour, but they are near capacity in many places. I often use Live Oak to avoid traffic on 75…but if 75 weren’t there, where do you think everyone would be going? On the side streets. A great example is the lack of a limited access highway running east-west between35 and 75 from Woodall Rogers to LBJ. Your choices are limited: Inwood, Mockingbird which is intentionally sabotaged by Highland Park, Loop 12, Walnut Hill, Royal, and Forest. I challenge anyone who wants to get across town between 5 and 7pm on those roads at any reasonable speed, and that’s with LBJ and Woodall also running at full capacity. If you took Woodall Rogers out instead of building the park on top, what do you think would happen? The cars have to go somewhere, and here’s why:

    Take European cities as the great counterexamples, these cities grew up way before cars and with limited exceptions, still have not highways in them. They build a ring road, like LBJ, that encircles the city and if you want to get downtown, you fight your way through endless city lanes with numerous stops and lights. Life does not meltdown in Rome, Paris, or Berlin, so how do they do it? Well, they have extensive public transit systems to move people around. Aside from being inconvenient to own a car, it’s unnecessary even if you have one because it’s quicker to use the subway, street car or bus system to get around than getting out the automobile…that’s for intercity transportation. DART is completely inadequate for moving Dallas’ people around if we’re in the business of tearing down highways. It needs probably another ten lines including a couple that exist to connect other lines together. When I lived in Uptown, it would’ve taken me 1:45 to get to work in Plano, when a car got me there in 25 minutes. To build out DART adequately, it wouldn’t cost the billion dollars that it would cost to bury I-345, but more like 100 billion since the rights of way do not exist and mass transit is crazy expensive to build. Look at what we have after 30 years of DART.

    I used to live in Boston and we got rid of our Central Expressway to reconnect neighborhoods and it has been great for Boston, but we still replaced it with the underground highway, and yes, it cost over 20 billion dollars to do it. If you want to reconnect Deep Ellum with Dallas, then pay the billion to put it underground, but I don’t think anyone wants to live in Deep Ellum without that highway, because the streets will become parking lots.

  • mdunlap1

    The Deep Ellum Community Association (DECA) has publicly asked TxDOT to consider tearing out I-345.

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.597584476934837.150882.205435736149715&type=3

    No one traveling I-345 now has Deep Ellum as a destination. It is used to fly past it. They would find other ways to go around and Deep Ellum and the east end of the CBD would have an enormous amount of space opened up for development; space that could easily be used to accommodate additional parking demand. There is currently a colossal amount of extra road and parking lot capacity in Deep Ellum and the east end of downtown anyway. Other than a few peak weekend hours, the roads are mostly empty and parking can be found anywhere.

  • Mr. Motorist

    I fully agree with and support Mr. Blow’s comments. I envy a city like Dallas for it’s great freeway system and I applaud the TxDOT for continuing to invest in and improve that system. I live in a “left-wing, out-to-lunch” city in Canada (Vancouver) where there is no good highway system. The result is that it costs hundreds of thousands of us dearly every day – in wasted time, wasted fuel and wasted energy. It harms business. It robs time away from our family and friends. It cripples the quality of life because you can’t get anywhere unless you have a lot of time to kill and a lot of money to waste on gas while you idle needlessly on city streets that are forced to handle freeway-volume traffic. The nickname for our mayor is “Mr. Moonbeam” because he thinks we all should all ride our bicycles everywhere. Just how can a sensible person respect an out-of-touch idiot like that! I have absolutely no interest in riding a bike anywhere… I did that as a kid before I grew up! Vancouver thinks by not having freeways, they did the right thing. Well… this area is the most congested center in Canada and the second most congested in North America. They spent billions on transit and the result is that we are the most congested city on the continent. Smart move, eh? Traffic congestion takes no break and its not only a curse on weekdays between 9 and 5… its each and every day! A distance as short as 20 km (about 10 miles) can take well over an hour. And this is because there are no expressways so you have to use city streets and stop at every block (literally) – it’s stop and go all the way while bicycle lanes sit empty and buses spew fumes into the air.

    So Mr. Blow is correct in his statements and I hope the TxDOT will continue to show such wisdom and vision in building and maintaining their vital freeway arterials. Way to go, Texas!

  • Telmira Nogueira

    Nice

  • Telmira Nogueira

    nice

  • guest

    ed i would assume that the traffic lost is simply passing through and found a more suitable route

  • Mark Nixon

    Even though 1/3 of the population can’t drive, (kids, seniors, handicapped & low income) in the suburban sprawl landscape they are out there on the highway anyway, being shuttled by the other 2/3rds(either thru public transit, or by the 2/3rds within families). The USA allowed our marketplace to move from our neighborhoods out onto our highways without understanding the unintended consequences & design failure this represents. And, because we allowed land value appreciation based on traffic count(along with separate use zoning) to force us into cars, we now have a Walmart/Mcdonalds/big oil/ big auto economy/landscape for the vast number of Americans who are relegated to service work jobs. To some extent this huge public investment actually stratifies our career options into a somewhat 2 tiered economy, share holders & corporate franchise employees. We inadvertently started allowing the future to be designed around market forces(low priced domestic goods, fast food, subdivision tract housing) rather than building a future around better economic opportunity. The collective road rage we experience is our subconscious realization(fear) that our daily driving frustration is actually funded by our own taxes. The difficulty we now face is bringing this “happy motoring” mess to our collective conscious democratic redesign.

    Do you know the difference between separate use & mixed use zoning? Do you know what kind of landscape or economy we would have if in June of 1956, the Eisenhower administration had passed the “Interstate Rail Act” instead of the “Interstate Highway Act”?

    Read “Walkable City” by Jeff Speck.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEkgM9P2C5U#t=15

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGJt_YXIoJI

    http://www.planetizen.com/node/53922

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1ZeXnmDZMQ

  • Dallas is lucky to have someone who cares as much for the urban fabric as Peter Simek does. As someone who just relocated to the area from a great city of the northeast (Montreal), and knows what real urban life is like and just how rich it can be, the promised land is worth the journey.