It’s Time to Stop Talking Past Each Other on I-345 Teardown

We’ve reached a point of rhetorical impasse on the I-345 teardown debate. Let's reset with a little context about the proposal's vital import to the future of this city.

Photography by Scott Womack
Photography by Scott Womack

I think we’ve reached the point in the I-345 teardown debate where both sides are talking past each other. Take the two pieces last week by the Dallas Morning News’ most vocal opponents of the teardown. Rodger Jones issued a cranky post that more or less boils down to a reiteration of his view that people use I-345 to get to work and so tearing down the road would amount to an undue burden on the part of those who use that road today. Then Tod Robberson argued that the teardown shouldn’t move forward until supporters can figure out how to create new jobs in South Dallas.

My knee-jerk response to both of these arguments was to grab the tired drum and start pounding it again. No one is ignoring the data regarding I-345 usage, or denying that people in southern Dallas use it to get to jobs in northern Dallas. The point is that removing roads doesn’t affect net mobility; commuters will still be able to get to their jobs without I-345 — and, eventually, more efficiently; and tearing down roads produces economic benefits that radiate far beyond the immediate vicinity of the road. And don’t take my word for it, look at Vancouver, Portland, San Francisco, Milwaukee, New York, Paris, Chattanooga, Seoul, etc.

The problem, however, is that repeating these arguments is pointless because they don’t really address opponents’ more fundamental assumptions about what kind of a city Dallas is and how it should evolve in the future. This became clear when I came across a blog post Rodger Jones wrote a month or so ago in response to Patrick Kennedy’s own persistent drum beating. Jones writes:

I have read the explanations that traffic would find its own way and the world would not come to an end. I have read that, absent I-345, southern Dallas could end up diversifying its economy and southern Dallas people could become less dependent on North Dallas for jobs.

I have to say that can sound cavalier where other people’s livelihoods are concerned. What if I said McKinney and Allen people should find another way than US 75 through Richardson to get to Dallas? What if I told my daughter that?

Like much of the recent debate about the I-345 teardown, this line of argument attempts to create a dialectical impasse by reducing the terms of the debate to a personal scale: “There are people who use the road to get to work; We can’t talk about teardown until we have a plan for jobs in South Dallas; The teardown can’t affect the status quo; The interest of the civic multitude doesn’t trump the multitude of individual interests.” It is likely that the proposed study, undertaken by a city council committee led by a staunch opponent of the road, will only serve the same purpose, to contribute data to the argument that we can’t talk about tearing down the road until we can imagine a scenario in which tearing down the road is exactly like not tearing down the road.

More than a rhetorical strategy, this line of argument is rooted in a failure to grasp the severity of our historical planning failures and scale of the opportunity presented by I-345. So let’s step back a bit.

The reality is that Dallas today is not really a city. Dallas stopped being a city around 60 years ago when transportation planning and incentivized development created an economic region that prizes the low cost of doing business in an economic zone that is held together by a network of efficient highways. Now Dallas exists as an urbanized node in a multi-nodal region. This is why Jones can make the comparison between tearing down a road in downtown Dallas and tearing one down in Richardson. What we live in is an equally distributed network, structured along a highway system that intersects a variety of arbitrarily named zones. What is Richardson, or Coppell, or Plano, or Allen, or Flower Mound? What is Dallas, for that matter? They are all generally indistinguishable, semi-autonomous locales that are sewn together into a highway-networked economic region.

Critic and urban historian Louis Mumford had a name for this phenomenon. He called it the “anti-city.”

“By allowing mass transportation to deteriorate and by building expressways out of the city and parking garages within,” Mumford writes, “our highway engineers and city planners have helped to destroy the living tissue of the city and to limit the possibilities of creating a larger urban organism on a regional scale.”

There is nothing like a major national sporting event like the Final Four, and the TV broadcasters’ subsequent linguistic hopscotching across terms like “North Texas,” “Dallas-Fort Worth,” and “Metroplex,” to offer evidence to back up Mumford’s assertion that this anti-city “annihilates the city whenever it collides with it.” Not only do large-scale events get scattered across our sprawling metro-area, outsiders leave the area after the event with little conception of where they actually were. It reminds me of my favorite joke about a visitor in Dallas: “I drove around Dallas for two hours looking for it.”

The cost of sprawl is the failure of an urban space to provide the economic and social benefits that are the very raison d’état of urban existence. It is not a coincidence that Dallas County has lost 266,000 jobs in ten years, or that Dallas has $900 million in deferred street maintenance, or that TxDOT is $35 billion in debt. These are the symptoms of the regional development whose unsustainability have had a corrosive effect on the economic efficiency that urban environments are meant to provide. It is also not a coincidence that Klyde Warren Park has been embraced so enthusiastically. Although in the context of great urban spaces Dallas’ new park is somewhat contrived, there is a deep, unsatiated hunger among citizens — a kind of civic desperation — for a setting that denotes a sense of place, where a city-dwelling individual can recognize or root some aspect of her identity in a social existence made physically manifest in the public square. What we ultimately seek in spaces like Klyde Warren is the way that cities inform our political and aesthetic consciousness.

It is illuminating that this debate has begun to frame itself around the fate of South Dallas, and the reason for that extends beyond the practical connection to employment I-345 represents and the typical Dallas political reflex to turn important civic conversations into messy and debilitating racial skirmishes. Although its history is couched within a legacy of racism, South Dallas’s challenges today are indicative of how the steady sprawl of development has ostracized the once centralized neighborhood from the region’s economic hub. Even though South Dallas appears to be an inner-city neighborhood just south of the region’s hub, the reality is that, over the past 60 years, patterns of development have moved the region’s economic center out of downtown Dallas and further north along the Tollway. Today South Dallas is more of a rural exurb on the fringe of the economic region, on the far side of I-30, which now functions like an inner ring road. South Dallas suffers from rural blight, its rural-fication a product of a city’s migrating mass suburbanization. We wonder why we can’t figure out how to bring jobs to South Dallas, but we might as well wonder why we don’t have a jobs plan for Celina.

The teardown of I-345 represents the most immediate and large-scale opportunity to reverse a pattern of growth that has led to the dilution of Dallas’ urban form. The very fact that detractors characterize urban life as a kind of designer lifestyle, a playground for the young and well-to-do, is either a reflection of an ignorance of what it is like to actually live in a city or a caged animosity for forms of living that look anything unlike the homogenized stratification of life in super-sprawl suburbia whose highest civic value is individualistic autonomy (“What if it were your daughter?” Jones threatens). But what is at stake is more than a real estate gambit. The teardown is an opportunity to begin to reverse 60 years of failed planning and begin to move towards building a future city in North Texas that achieves the economic efficiencies and social edification that are absolutely necessary to sustain the region’s viability.

That’s why this ongoing conversation is so important. More than tearing down I-345, it is a conversation about rethinking the macro-planning of North Texas. The inertia of suburban growth will continue to incentivize regional planning organizations, supported by their multitude of nodal constituents, to sustain the status quo that supports the continued spread of the “anti-city.” It is incumbent on Dallas to seize this opportunity to take control of its own future. We can no longer afford to be just another innocuous node in a sprawling region. We can’t afford to place contingencies on systematic change that require outputs equal the inputs — the aftereffects of teardown to mimic the failings of the outdated model. If we take this opportunity to change the trajectory of urban growth in North Texas in a major way, our sons and daughters won’t be encumbered by economic hardship — they will be grateful for our prudence and vision.

But we are currently at an impasse in the conversation. I’d rather argue about whether or not the economic realities of contemporary inner-city redevelopment can realize the right kinds of density and urban forms required for a healthy city. I’d like to argue whether Dallas has the political will to plan the future development of downtown as it spreads eastward in a way that can facilitate an economically and racially diversified series of city neighborhoods. But to continue to assert that plans to revitalize Dallas as a city  must fit into the matrix of the regional infrastructure that has dismantled its urbanity is to talk past each other. It is to take a self-defeating position. It is to continue to beat this conversation back and forth in a manner that wastes everybody’s time.

Comments

  • Alexander

    In 1942 8 of the 18 street car lines in the city were in South Dallas. Can you imagine when 1/3 of the population lived there? How did we let it become so rural?

    • mdunlap1

      Because people in power (exclusively white at the time) ripped highways straight through it to enable white flight. Dallas was not alone in this. It happened everywhere. The federal government ruled whites had to live equally with blacks so the whites trucked all the cities’s resources out to the sticks, building highways to the core they still needed in order to not just be orphaned podunk towns like those not far beyond them.

  • Uppercase Matt

    I think there’s a study that addresses what you’re saying – http://bit.ly/1kqRnZp

  • Mark

    When did this become Wick Allison’s pet campaign? Has that asshole even driven on 75 in 10 years, or does Mr. Highland Park just cruise down Preston?

  • JtB

    Some 60 years ago this happened:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_streetcar_conspiracy I would be interested in a story about the history of the intricacies of the demise of our interurban lines.

    Maybe streetcars could be us again Mr. Jones: http://transportationblog.dallasnews.com/2009/09/streetcars-were-us.html/

  • Johnyalamo

    Some 60 years ago this happened:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_streetcar_conspiracy I would be interested in a story about the history of our interurban lines.

    Maybe streetcars could be us again Mr. Jones: http://transportationblog.dallasnews.com/2009/09/streetcars-were-us.html/

  • Tim Rogers

    Proud to work with you, Peter. Well done.

    • mdunlap1

      Time for a public debate. Kennedy vs. Morris. Or such and such.

      Courtney Kerr can moderate.

      (But seriously…)

    • RAB

      Yes, whereas I generally disagree with Mr. Simek, this is a damn fine piece of writing.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Never in my adult life have I lived more than 4 miles from downtown Dallas and I 100% agree with everything in this article–I firmly believe that $10 a gallon gas would deal with many of the problems described. But in the back of my mind, I keep thinking “don’t 75 and 45 need to connect?” It’s the road from the Texas coast into Oklahoma. Being a strong supporter of urban areas doesn’t mean blocking interstate commerce, right? Why this particular section of freeway and not Woodall Rodgers, 67, 635 or ten other freeways we could think of?

  • mdunlap1

    “don’t 75 and 45 need to connect?”

    No.

    1) Taking 635 adds less than 10 minutes onto a trip from south of Dallas to north of Dallas. (Google Map it if you don’t believe me.)

    2) Great cities all over the world share something in common: you don’t get to fly straight through the core on a highway. You have to go around.

  • mdunlap1

    Very true. One way to stop the talking around:

    D hosts a public debate between Kennedy, Hancock, et al. vs. Michael Morris, Steve Blow and/or whomever.

    Let’s do this.

  • pr1

    “The point is that removing roads doesn’t affect net mobility; commuters will still be able to get to their jobs without I-345 — and, eventually, more efficiently; and tearing down roads produces economic benefits that radiate far beyond the immediate vicinity of the road.”

    He is right — it will not impact net mobility. People who rely on this roadway will still get to work, except that it will take them 10-15 minutes longer since there are no real other options other than the side roads (stops signs and lights, more congestion, narrow roads, etc). Of course, it only will impact folks in southeast Dallas who do not have the money or clout to fight this.

    Pete, here is an idea? Why not get rid of I-30 just south of downtown? Or, I-35 on the west side of downtown. Sure, these ideas might reek havoc on your commute from Oak Cliff, but it is for the good of the city, right? I mean, it will not impact “net mobility” because you would still get to work, it just will not be quick or easy. We could connect downtown to the south or west where the city desperately needs economic growth and jobs.

    why not get rid of I-30

  • Christine Allison

    Bravo Pete.

  • Alexander

    Well, Central is not part of the interstate highway system.

    It’s also possible for commerce to use local roads.

  • Tim Rogers

    Havoc would be a great name for a cologne.

  • Peter Simek

    Actually, I think removing I-30 from downtown/cedars and rerouting the road around South Dallas is a great idea. I also like the idea of turning loop 12 into the so-called 35C — diverting I35E traffic west and around the city — and turning I35E into a boulevard south of, oh, Mockingbird or so. Highways don’t need to be in cities. Just look at Vancouver, most of Europe

  • BradfordPearson

    The fine folks at Mary Quant beat you to it: http://thumbs3.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/m/mW7KizkT4wGMmtKj36czecw.jpg

  • Wylie H Dallas

    [Today South Dallas is more of a rural exurb on the fringe of the economic region, on the far side of I-30, which now functions like an inner ring road. South Dallas suffers from rural blight, its rural-fication a product of a city’s migrating mass suburbanization. We wonder why we can’t figure out how to bring jobs to South Dallas, but we might as well wonder why we don’t have a jobs plan for Celina.]
    ^READ THIS – SIMEK IS RIGHT, AS USUAL^

    • Bob Dobbins

      I don’t agree. It looks that way around the flood plain that extends past Lancaster- but no one should live in that zone. There are huge forgotten neighborhoods in the rest of South Dallas with lots of people and lots of potential. Get off the main drags and drive down Hillburn or Rugged or one of the other real streets where people live.

  • LongTimeResident

    Find a way to replace I-345 and then you will have something to discuss. Making it more difficult to get around will simply move more people and jobs to the suburbs. It will be impossible to find workplace housing near downtown without massive government subsidies. Look at how high the rents in downtown are now. People move to suburban communities for quality schools and safety. Tearing down I-345 will not fix either of those problems in downtown Dallas.

    • mdunlap1

      Here is a paper from a Brown University Econ professor that found exactly the opposite: urban highways fuel suburban growth.

      http://m.qje.oxfordjournals.org/content/122/2/775.short

      Urban highways were built to enable the burbs. That’s the whole point of them. Tear them out and you enable cities.

    • brianthecoder

      The people are already in the suburbs and the jobs are moving that way.

  • Daniel

    Very well written. This nails it: ..”.there is a deep, unsatiated hunger among citizens — a kind of civic desperation — for a setting that denotes a sense of place, where a city-dwelling individual can recognize or root some aspect of her identity in a social existence made physically manifest in the public square.”

  • Mike D.

    So in order to become a “great city,” we will next be destroying the portions of 30 and 35 that also cut directly through our beloved city. Its the only way! Tear down those highways.

  • TheBlaydes

    I agree with much of the above, but you’re suggesting changing the minds of millions of people and hundreds of decisions makers. The best way to change someone’s mind is not to engage in a philosophical debate, but to show them how your idea helps them. I shouldn’t be attacking them for living in Frisco or Sunnyvale and commuting to downtown. I should be explaining why adding 5 minutes to their commute is going to be okay and what they get for it in return.

    You need to convince the regional individualists (commuting from downtown to Richardson crowd); that in order the have the big city amenities that Dallas pays for but that benefit the region; you need an economically healthy central city. Yes, tearing down 345 adds 5-10 minutes to your commute, but it helps pay for the largest Fine Arts Districts in the country.

    Or for the urban-rural individualists (commuting from South Dallas to North Dallas); that you understand long commutes for a low paying job is hard. But instead of making those commutes (which are getting longer and longer) more efficient, you’re trying to bring those jobs closer to home.

    Explain to someone the benefits to them personally of tearing down 345; you can change their mind. Engage in a debate about the nature of cities, regional transportation theorem, personal residential location decisions and an overarching class warfare discussion; you can offend beliefs, spin your wheels, and end up back where you started.

  • Pegaso

    Brandon Hancock of “A New Dallas” will be one of the speakers at our “Confab” event – June 6th at City Performance Hall. Tickets benefit the Dallas Parks Foundation and may be purchased here: http://www.dallasconfab.org

  • Brenda Marks

    Peter, this is your best yet. I have lived in Oaklawn for 31 years. I’ve refused to abandon ship to the burbs or North Dallas for the reason that this neighborhood is only one of a handful in Dallas that feels like it knits itself into a larger city. I was driving back home last evening from North Dallas and traveling down 75 felt exactly as you described — travel through a series of autonomous areas that have no real connection to each other. I blame city leaders long dead — but most of all I now blame quasi-governmental organizations that took root in the 1970s (my grandfather was a champion of these during his own time) and now tightly control all the transportation and big infrastructure decisions. Just to go through all of them on the website of the North Central Texas Council of Governments will turn you into a card-carrying libertarian. Those organizations don’t have in their mindset any of the issues you touched upon. I wish the City of Dallas would pay less attention to satisfying its neighbors and more time focused on its neighborhoods, streets, local businesses and schools. But that seems to be too much to handle currently.

  • Alexander

    Well 35, the Stemmons portion at least, didn’t cut through neighborhoods. It followed the edge of the city. It would be great if 30 could be rerouted along the Trinity Parkway.

    And as we become a richer and richer city we should work to cover the sunken portions of Woodall and Central.

  • Alexander

    Ask google to get you form the Minyards in South Dallas to Southwestern Medical Center (apparently all those people are going to the Medical District accruing to the DMN). Google says it takes 12 minutes going either through the mixmaster or 345/Woodall. Now drop a pin at Pearl. How long does it take using surface roads? 13 minutes– and it’s a shorter distance, so the driver will use less gas. The driver will also have viable alternatives if there is an accident or delay, which are not available when on the highway.

    Why are people acting like a couple of stop lights is the end of the world?

  • brianthecoder

    Great article! I’m tired of people in the suburbs thinking that the city of Dallas has a responsibility to them

    • Wylie H Dallas

      +1

  • brianthecoder

    The big reason 345 is being talked about is that it is in desperate need for repair. If the stretch of 30 was as bad, there would probably be a similar debate. It also divides two up and coming areas, downtown and Deep Ellum. South of 30 is still lagging behind these two areas.

  • Brenda Marks

    +1

  • mdunlap1

    That would certainly be great for Dallas. Terrible for Plano et al. of course.

  • mdunlap1

    Dallas will be a much better place once it has leaders that realize the whole “Metroplex” concept is a load of shit. There is a great city surrounded by a bunch of parasites leeching off of it.

  • thufir_hawat

    Peter,

    You wrote recently that density is not a hipster conspiracy, but about bringing jobs closer to the workforce. After reading this sermon, you have convinced me instead that it is both, mixed in with a dose of big brother.

    At least the author of this piece (http://slate.me/1p8gdSP) is honest enough to admit his agenda: because the factors that make a city dense and walkable also make them liberal, increasing urban density could help lead to more Democrat voters and the end of conservatism. Hooray architecture and design as reeducation; hail hipster-urban-hydra! Next stop, the end of the cul-de-sac.

    With apologies to CrunchyCon, the D/Frontburner brand of progressivism is wholly convinced (in addition to its unspeakable coolness) that the future has been essentially solved, that all that is left is to work out the details, and that anyone who disagrees is (i) wrong, (ii) stupid, (iii) a few decades away reaching their own state of liberal enlightenment, and (iv) some combination of the three. That brand of arrogance is palpable.

    Given your convictions and apparent belief that anyone who questions or, heaven forfend disagrees, with you is some kind of troglodyte, I think maybe you are correct; debate with you and your ilk is pointless.

  • AmyS

    I’m not arguing against Peter’s point. But I think you’ve not taken the increased volume into account. A stop light is not a problem until you have so many cars that it takes 3 light changes for you to drive through the intersection.

  • AmyS

    You could say the same about North Dallas, including the schools. Houses are selling like hot nuts here.

  • AROD

    I think the idea of tearing down I-345 is well intentioned, and could work if it’s executed correctly. But that’s the problem. Right now, the idea is being proposed as a tear down of a 2 mile segment of a 400 mile interstate highway (that’s what it regardless of the naming convention – its a 4 to 8 lane grade separated freeway with frontage roads all the way to Durant OK) right in heart of Downtown, with no replacement of capacity. There are over 200,000 cars a day on that freeway, almost 75% of it is through traffic. No one is going to go for ripping it down with no plan for capacity.

    Why don’t the leaders of this proposal move towards getting I-375 Tunnelled or trenched? That’s the way to execute this correctly. Make it a toll tunnel if the finances don’t work. A toll tunnel is voluntary, and if most of your existing traffic is paying a toll, then those that can’t afford a toll will have no problems using free the surface streets to get back on 75.

    Otherwise the arguments of 635 or surface streets or Woodall Rogers should terriblly uninformed and naive. Likely 100K cars are going to use reroute 635? Have you seen 635? It is already overcapacity. We are spending over 1 Billion just to expand a 6 mile stretch of it, just to get it to support the existing capacity. Woodall Rogers? How do they get to Woodall Rogers? Through the Canyon, and that crappy stretch of road is a nightmare today. I don’t have to make a new nightmare scenario, its there every day, now add tens of thousands of cars.

    Surface streets? Well let’s see you have Good Latimer which has been reduced in capacity due to the Green Line, you have Ceasar Chavez, neither of which gets you all the way to Central, and then you’ll have the new parkway. Can someone please learn how to add and tell me how the other 100K cars a day are going to navigate Good Latimer, Ceasar Chavez and a 4 lane bike pedestrian friendly parkway?

    The only way to do this right is to tunnel I-375. There are 200K + cars on it now, and DFW and Houston are #1 and #3 in the fastest growing Metros in the entire United States, that number is only going up. Tunnel it and then develop the city, thats the approach you guys need to take. Otherwise you are either doomed to failure, or doomed to subjecting the Downtown area to a traffic nightmare on par with the worst LA has to offer.

    • Tim Rogers

      You’re making our argument for us. Why should all those vehicles that have no business with Dallas be funneled right through our urban core? Tunneling it is a dream.

  • AROD

    It’s a little late to unbuild the current freeway system and reroute it around the core. I-45/US75 goes where it goes. Unless you want to propose some other way of replacing capacity. Math doesn’t lie. You have to figure out how you get 200K+ cars (and growing) around this bottleneck you propose to create. It’s the only way this idea makes any sense.

    Tunneling it is not a dream if you toll it. Because you’ve replaced capacity with a toll tunnel, you aren’t overwhelming the city streets, and therefore the small portion of disadvantaged who don’t want to pay a toll can realistically use the city streets. Or maybe you look at rerouting 45 from the 175 split through the Trinity and into the soon to be rebuilt Mixmaster, that could be a possiblity, if you make other improvements with it. That option would knock out two birds with one stone: Southeast Dallas gets 45 torn down and I-375 gets torn down.

    Either way, doing this right will take some effort and cost some money. And stranding 200K cars a day in the middle of downtown is not the right way.

    Regardless, this plan looks naive and ignorant unless you propose a way to replace the capacity.

  • Alexander

    You really think there are that many people commuting north from South Dallas? There aren’t even 30k people living in South Dallas. Assuming a 60% workforce participation that’s around 18,000 people going to work. Even if every single one of them left at the same time and took the same route, the streets can accommodate the increase in traffic.

    Suburb to suburb commuters and long haul truckers will go around the city (which is a good thing).

  • Alexander

    You could’t get financing for a toll tunnel, just like financing isn’t there for the Trinity Tollrroad, because there is no demand.

    160K vehicles are using 345 daily (not 200K), as you said 2/3 or more of them are bypassing downtown. Those people would take new routes– not just LBJ, but also Loop 12, and others. The couple of thousand drivers going downtown can take a different exit at basically no lost time. The people going from points a little north or south of downtown will switch to surface roads. They will lose some time, but not much, likely adding less than 10% to their current trip time. Why would they choose to pay the toll?

    So who takes the tunnel? Who pays that toll? Are there enough people going from the Park Cities and the M Streets to Ennis or Houston in a given day that want to save a couple of minutes? Likely not.

    We have induced demand. We have a free road there so people use it. But it’s not a very helpful road and if it was priced to pay for itself, it would not exist. So now that it needs repair, why not skip the cost and remove it?

  • Alexander

    Oh and I do agree with you about rerouting 45 into the Trinity tollroad. That would work towards increasing the demand and making it somewhat viable. Though the fight over turning a free interstate road into a tollroad won’t be a pretty one.

  • AROD

    I totally disagree you couldn’t get financing for a I-375 tunnel. There is already proven demand for ~200K cars a day. The Trinity Toll road is being spec’d nowhere near that capacity, and is mired in both public and engineering controversy. I-375 tunnel at $1 per car X 200K per day X 50 years = $3.65 Billion, so you could easily support a $2 billion project on a $1 toll. Make it 55-60 years or $1.25 a car if you need more $$$. There are toll projects going on all over the place in DFW, the money is there if you have a viable project

  • AROD

    Yeah, you’d have to make additional improvements to the Mixmaster and Woodall Rogers to make the capacity numbers work, and you would likely have to make 45 a combination toll/free project like 35express or LBJ.

  • James the P3

    I don’t think you need to turn I-35E into a boulevard. You just need to redesignate Loop 12/Spur 408 as I-35E and redesignate the existing I-35E as “I-335” or some such.

    Redesignating Stemmons as a three-numbered spur interstate, rather than as the primary route, would encourage thru traffic to use the route now named I-35E, and thus travel several miles west of downtown. The simple replacement of some signage would reduce traffic through the central core markedly.

  • Bob Dobbins

    I think one of the problems is that a fairly simple proposition turned into a monster proposition.

    The original idea was to tear down SM Wright 175 from MLK to Hatcher. Somehow that kept getting more grandiose on Kennedy’s blog until in turned into 345. I bet most people that relate this to South Dallas jobs don’t realize the switch occurred because no one calls them by the roads by their numbers.

    SM Wright was a bad idea from the beginning. It gashes an historic area into two neighborhoods that are not viable separately. It was everything that was wrong with freeway planning. Tearing it down is an obvious win. You can just drive it and see the beauty of the idea. It is also strongly supported by the community. It will slow urban crawl by upping the supply of livable, affordable housing close to the city center.

    Tearing down 345 doesn’t slow urban crawl – you will still have several major freeways terminating there. Deep Ellum revitalization, like every other city, will center around the train. The 345 teardown lacks deep-rooted community support. It will be vastly more expensive than SM Wright and has a much riskier value proposition.

    Let’s just shut up about 345 and get Wright done. The South Dallas community leaders are behind it. Do SM Wright correctly and we can start tearing down every freeway. Start with the easy win, not the dubious battle.

    • TheSlowPath

      The two aren’t actually related. Wright is a done deal. It’s also not a very well done done-deal. The neighborhood wanted a 4 lane road, they got a six lane, and it’s designed for a higher speed than a neighborhood arterial should have.

      There was never a moment, as you suggest, when Patrick was advocating a Wright tear-down and then switched to 345, trying to pull one over on anybody. As a long time reader of his blog, IIRC, the Wright discussion prompted the 345 discussion, but it was always about that overpass.

  • Ed Woodson

    “The point is that removing roads doesn’t affect net mobility; commuters will still be able to get to their jobs without I-345 — and, eventually, more efficiently; and tearing down roads produces economic benefits that radiate far beyond the immediate vicinity of the road. And don’t take my word for it, look at Vancouver, Portland, San Francisco, Milwaukee, New York, Paris, Chattanooga, Seoul, etc.” It is indeed hard to have a meaningful conversation when statements like this, which are patently false, are included. Induced demand does not mean that net mobility is not reduced in a tear down. It means that the net demand will eventually drop, to better fit the system. Those are two VERY different things, as the reasons for reduced demand may be beneficial, and may be harmful. As for the cities you cite, they are terrible proxies for the I-345 teardown, which is completely unprecedented. Since the people at D-Magazine wouldn’t actually look at Kennedy’s examples, I did. They are qualitatively and quantitatively different.

    http://candysdirt.com/2014/04/16/dallas-demolish-downtown-highway-generate-new-parks-spur-real-estate-investment-part-three-part-series/

  • TheSlowPath

    Dead link at bottom.

  • TheSlowPath

    It really isn’t 200k cars, it’s 200k car trips. Commuters using it there and back show up twice. I’m not sure that affects anything you’ve said, but it’s important to know in this conversation.

  • Ed Woodson

    I can’t figure out how to do a link in this. Cut and paste works though.

  • Alexander

    My point is very few of the current users would pay the toll. They would use alternatives.

    You might find this interesting:

    http://www.carfreeinbigd.com/2013/06/345-burial.html

  • tested

    Great read. By the way, without 75 I could take the Dallas North Tollway or even Greenville to get into Dallas from Plano. Going to Houston via 635 to 45 instead of 75 to 45 is just fine. I would honestly like to see a simple study on 345 done: close it for a month and see what the traffic does. It would give them a good chance to do most of the repairs it needs anyway.

  • Bob Dobbins

    A TxDOT presentation does not make it a done deal. And while we are on the subject, why should I be optimistic that the 345 plan will somehow be a well-done deal if Wright isn’t?

  • Mark Rybczyk

    An interesting parallel is the destruction of I 30 in downtown Fort Worth. It cut a slice through he southern part of downtown over Lancaster Avenue. It was removed over 10,years ago when the freeway was moved about a half mile south.
    City planners took the opportunity to recreate Lancaster into a ‘Grand Boulevard’. Lancaster Avenue has access to public mass transit (the final stop of theTRE) and a world class green space (the Water Gardens). It’s been over ten years and despite all the street improvements, the advantages just mentioned and the growth in Downtown Fort Worth, Lancaster Ave is a virtual ghost town.
    My point is that that tearing down I-345 does not guarantee an urban renaissance.
    An interesting experiment would be to block off I-345 for a month. It would be easy to see what life would be, traffic wise, without it. Would we quickly realize that we could do without it? Those that argue for the destruction say that drivers would would quickly adjust. Why not try it first before we tear it down and realize we’ve done something we regret.

  • Joe Bloh

    * The Tollway is not needed, or, is being Planned in the wrong Spot;

    It should be connected @ I35, where it connects with I30,
    and should run along the levy, to I45.

    Making it Possible for I345 to be demolished.

    And it should run along the levy area until it reaches I35; With Exits to Ceasar Chavez Blvd.

    This would alleviate congestion, for when and if I345 no longer exists,
    by re-routing South/North traffic ‘Around’ .

    Those that are trying to get from East to West and vice-versa (on I30)
    can still do so, since most of it is below ground level; OR
    a tunnel can be made.

    Who knows, maybe another Deck park on that as well.

    Added with lightRail along every freeway route….
    Possibilities are enormous.

    ******************************************************************

    As for ‘Walkability’ and a source of revenue…

    Light-Rail is actually more important than more freeway ;and the best place(s) to lay
    track IS along-side the freeways. (!)

    If Dallas or City Hall was to realize this and Capitalize on it,
    the amount of profit would be untold.

    I surmise that if drivers were to see a train going in the same
    direction that they take on the freeway(s), the Ridership
    would EXPLODE.

    Dallas has been fighting for “walkability” in Downtown.

    And if the people would follow those simple rules:
    “Live Close to where you Work”, and “Work Close to where you Live”,
    the areas in and around the Core would Immediately JUMP.