I-345, the stretch of highway dividing Deep Ellum from downtown and connecting interstates 75 and 45, is at the center of debate on how to develop the city's urban core. Photo by Alex Macon.

Urbanism

Conservative Think Tank Calls for I-345 Teardown

A good idea, demolishing the elevated highway downtown, continues to pick up steam.

Add the conservative think tank the Manhattan Institute to the list of influential organizations that believe Dallas needs to tear down I-345. In a newly published report, the Manhattan Institute names 10 infrastructure projects across the country that “deserve a green light,” including the removal of the elevated freeway splitting downtown and Deep Ellum. From the report:

What: Demolition of 1.3 miles of urban freeway in central Dallas, to be replaced with a surface boulevard

Why: Downtown Dallas, about 1.5 square miles, is circumscribed by a five-mile freeway loop that consumes large amounts of valuable real estate and makes pedestrian access to downtown unpleasant. Though primarily a commercial area, the downtown has seen substantial residential growth. Areas immediately beyond I-345, the northeast section of the freeway loop, have also experienced substantial resi- dential growth and revitalization. The demolition of I-345 would connect these two growing neighborhoods and also free up 245 acres of downtown land for high-density, taxpaying development. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) estimated an increased land value of $2.5 billion from removal, a minimum of $1 billion greater than any other studied scenario.

Price: TxDOT estimates the price as ranging between $100 million and $500 million.

Status: The Dallas city council and TxDOT are both studying the impact of removing the freeway.

Justification: The existing infrastructure is obsolete.

There you have it. Out with the obsolete.

Comments

  • RompingWillyBilly

    Stupid stupid stupid. What is worse than things being bad? It is spending hundreds of millions of tax payer money making things far worse.
    When is Dallas going to stop messing with central Dallas and start tending to the vast majority that is the rest of Dallas? The over zealous city officials are going to pick at and fester this pipe dream of over connecting neighborhoods until the whole city becomes a slum and the fickle wealthy of Uptown pick up to move to Las Colinas.
    Indeed, as the liberal urbanites of Dallas are trying to cut off the evil surrounding suburbanites, a smart person today would be shifting their investments towards Las Colinas.
    Welcome to the rotting core of North Texas! Indeed, welcome to Dallas!!

    • Los_Politico

      you sound like a suburbanite

      • RompingWillyBilly

        No, I am neither hot-pink liberal nor baby-blue conservative. I am trying ti document the very instance when Dallas made a fatal decision after many years of making great ones.
        Sound taps!!
        This extremist nonsense is ridiculous.

        • Los_Politico

          Either way, I don’t believe you have a Dallas address on your DL.

          • RompingWillyBilly

            Ninty-Five percent of Dallas is suburban. Pertaining to my credentials, I was born in Oak Cliff and raised in Garland. Aside from that, many have called me the world’s greatest American! As such, this is why I care. It angers me to see Dallas screwing itself. Houston, a corrupt city always making stupid decisions, wants to do the same thing. That should be enough evidence that something rotten is being cooked up down at city hall.

        • @zaccrain

          ‘after many years of making great ones’ ok

          • RompingWillyBilly

            One example of a great decision was the shift of philosophy away from freeway construction to light rail. Burying Central Express all the way from downtown out to the Northwest Highway where NorthPark Center stands was a great decision. The building of the Katy Trail was a great decision. Constructing the levee system along the Trinity River was perhaps the best decision the city ever made. Building Love Field so intimately close to downtown and to its iconic shopping centers was a great decision.

          • Mavdog

            Your view of “great decisions” comes from cloudy glasses being worn.

            There has not been a “shift of philosophy away from freeway construction to light rail”. Freeway construction has continued post DART rail and even today more freeways are being planned. DART rail has failed to provide the solution to transit congestion that it could have done if implemented better.

            Central Expressway was built below grade to accommodate the expansion lanes. If you look at the section that is depressed the service road is cantilevered over the freeway. The expansion could not have been done without this element, there wasn’t sufficient width of the ROW. This wasn’t a “great decision”, it was reality.

            The levee system was built because the city flooded. It was either build a levee system or the city would need to move away from the river. The “great decision” you refer to was to keep Dallas where it already was.

            Love Field was built out in the country, away from the city. The City grew around it. There are no “iconic shopping centers” in downtown Dallas. There was no “great decision” in regard to Love Field other than to build an airport to handle aviation when commercial air was a new concept.

          • RompingWillyBilly

            Yet, Dallas has the largest light rail system in the nation today. It is larger now than what Metro rail in Houston plans to look like upon its completion.
            The way Central Expressway highlights NorthPark popping out of the ground as it arrives in its vicinity is a classic.
            Pertaining to Love Field, contrast it with the other close in airports in the nation. There is a similar neat airport in Philadelphia. There is Midway in Chicago. It was reading about a visiting Japanese official standing at the top of a downtown Dallas office tower marveling at Love Fields close-in proximity that reinforced my own opinion of it. Again, central Houston doesn’t enjoy such a benefit. Hobby is located 11 miles from downtown Houston without any clear direct connections.
            The urban area of central Dallas exists today because of the levee system. People think its a new thing. Dallas has long had such a surrounding area while Houston has been developing mainly within its downtown loop system. Shoot, two bayous flow into each other northwest of downtown Houston before they enter into it splitting it into two parts.
            The infrastructure supporting central Dallas today was established many years ago with the development of the Trinity River levee system.

          • alexander troup

            Ok………………. so we go from Toy Trains to little cars …then big space ships by 2025.

          • RompingWillyBilly

            Further unwise action now being undertaken by officials of the city of Dallas? Well, a recent cash cow rising in the northeast corner of downtown has led them to neglect the long enduring classic Dallas Fair Park. The lucrative obsession of a cash cow I speak is the more contemporary Dallas Arts District. The reason one should just give up and stick a fork in the older but quite beautiful Dallas Fair Park is the impossible bottomless pit of political corruption now surrounding it. Indeed, the time for us all to throw in a towel will be signaled by the committee of the State Fair of Texas deciding to move its annual event to Arlington. Of course, regarding the bottomless pit of political corruption mentioned above, I am speaking of the neighborhood of South Dallas and the social spending to which it has forever been addicted – a sickness which has designated it as ground zero of North Texas regarding crime, poverty, and urban decay. Information I gathered in secret whispering with others while at a Star Bucks coffee shop (while also having to look around cautiously) is that locals should avoid this area like the plague and visiting tourists warned of its dangers. Indeed, as the wayward living in the vicinity of the Dallas State Fair have become imprisoned in a hopeless, stark, and never-altering black/white reality, so they have long been easily fooled by crony officials into chasing after their tails in endless perpetual circles. Even though this elementary interpretation of the color chart is the same faulty black/white dichotomy that made urban wastelands of many of the industrial cities up north – with many a crazy philosopher actually viewing such urban shambles as a positive political gain (See Noam Chomsky) – so, the local cronies in Dallas feel justified rubbing elbows manufacturing events against the best interests of the vast majority of the city. Why? Easy!! They are behaving in such a fashion for the short term benefit of their appetites. Thinking with their fat bellies and their other junk in the nether regions further below, they feel nothing about betraying the long term well-being of the city’s posterity. Yet, as we speak, while the area of central Dallas has become sustainable and self sufficient developing way beyond what is necessary for it to stand on its own, city officials just can’t keep their filthy fingers out of the people’s play time, spending unnecessarily on already established successful toys such as the Dallas Arts District, and other corruption. As the Dallas Arts District is doing well today and should be left alone – before it is screwed up royally – Deep Ellum too is doing just fine. Why risk an extreme pointy headed action of the complete removal of a major freeway artery (while also risking wasting hundreds of millions in the process)?
            Serving as a leading official in the United States is supposed to be the easiest job in the world. This mostly ceremonial task entails strutting around like a proud rooster, both looking and speaking important, and making ones butt a whole bunch fatter by gorging on more and more cheesecake. Indeed, pertaining to what is in the people’s best interest, not wasting billions in hard earned tax payer money doing lots of damned unnecessary things is always going to be the smartest option. To achieve this ideal state of fiscal dysfunction, on occasion, we should consider replacing all the busy bums now occupying public office with the more effective worthless homeless bums living out on the street. In this way, the city of Dallas will continue maintaining its status as the greatest city in the world!

    • Bobbie Knows

      I got news for you Las Colinas is a dump and has been for awhile. Anyone who works there moved to southlake. Goldman moved their offices from Las Colinas to downtown because none of their employees lived there. The schools are terrible. And everyone leaves uptown when they start a family. It’s for 20 something’s, divorced dads, corporate suites, or retirees.

      • RompingWillyBilly

        Then Uptown Dallas was worst than a dump during the early eighties before the advents of Harwood and the Crescent. Nearby Victory Park was an area of land poisoned and needing cleaning up as a chemical dump.

    • alexander troup

      A very self destructive mood looks like a Heroin Cult is at work again…I mean really..Hasn’t any one heard of that New York Creep Robert Moses who wanted to tear down Greenwich Village in 1965 because he hated Hippies like Bob Dylan….what Religion Runs Dallas, what super club now….

  • Pol Pot

    Where does the 245 acre figure come from? Anyone have a map? I-345 itself is only so wide and not all of the area underneath it are empty (surface roads and some parking lots).

    • RompingWillyBilly

      The city can always dupe South Dallas into wasting millions in tax dollars with the building of multi million dollar homogenous and sterile parks. Thanks, but those never work. The Katy Trail came about spontaneously as did both the pretty places of Lakewood and Oak Cliff.
      The city sticking its noses into the people’s business this way is like parents playing with the kid’s toys for them.
      The park across Woodall was great. This removing of a freeway is extremist nonsense concocted by second generation old money communist urbanites!!

      • Jim Schermbeck

        Of course, the locating of those freeways in the first place was extremist nonsense that became a reality. None of those examples you cite were “spontaneous.” They took planning and taxpayers dollars to achieve.

        • RompingWillyBilly

          Extremist location of freeways? To do anything, one first has to do it wrong. We have been very busy doing lots of that! For example, to cook up a plate of delicious fried chicken there had to be bones to pick at. Check! Now there are boneless chickens! Then we found out we were frying it up in the wrong fat and adjusted! Success again! Now they will argue we shouldn’t be eating chickens at all, but plant life. Okay, we get it already!
          Look, we have to put grandma in the backseat to drive her across town to visit her grandchildren. Blame her!!

      • Pol Pot

        That does nothing to answer my question of where the 245 acre figure comes from.

        I345 is in need of repair. It is also up in the air. Either it comes down piece by piece and is replaced piece by piece as part of a semi-centennial reconstruction of highways in the sky or it comes down all at once. That being the case, it is in our collective best interest to make a reasoned decision driven by data as opposed to empty projections and loud arguments. Either way, this is a huge $$$ project.

        I have serious doubts that tearing down I345 will suddenly be the boon (or detriment) that everyone’s crystal ball seems to forecast. When this idea cropped up a few years there was quite a bit of underused land on the outer ring of downtown. Today there is development. How does that development impact the assessment? I suspect that much of the 245 acres that was underused is now under construction, thereby reducing the effect (good or bad) of tearing down I345. Also, surface roads and parking lots run under I345 at the edge of downtown and deep ellum. Without knowing which 245 acres we are talking about there is no way to reasonable asses the situation.

        But we can probably agree that if it is town down, the city will sell the land to cronies at a low price thereby subsidizing the rich getting richer.

        • RompingWillyBilly

          That freeway is taking up quite a bit of room. Think of it this way. One floor of each world trade center tower was 200′ by 200′ or one acre.

          • Pol Pot

            I just want to know exactly how much. I was under the impression that when the number was floated around a few years ago it wasn’t just I-345, but I-345 and adjacent land. The land directly under I-345 on the eastern edge of downtown bordering deep ellum isn’t really that much.

            Also, surface roads will likely increase if there is a tear down. I think people are just accepting this acreage number without scrutiny.

          • RompingWillyBilly

            This is another pie in the sky idea like constructing a freeway in the flood plain of the Trinity River. In the end, I-345 belongs to the whole economic well being of North Texas, not just the city of Dallas. Hopefully the state of Texas will send in the State Guard, round up all these crazy officials, fit them in straight jackets, transport them to mental institutions, commit them, and treat them with both psycho-tropic medication and extensive psycho-therapy.

          • Mavdog
          • Pol Pot

            Thanks for this. This is about what I expected, the polygon exceeds the road by quite a bit.

            Start carving out blocks of land for the Epic Building, Elan City Lights, the storage place on Commerce, etc. and the acreage drives down.

    • Kyle Reese

      https://www.anewdallas.com/

      You’ll find a map here.

      • Pol Pot

        Thanks, I’m not finding a map, but I do see under the FAQ’s under the title “land development efficiency” that the tear out would recapture 63.93 acres of public right away under the existing freeway. That’s a much more believable number, but obviously less than the 245 being thrown around.

  • PJCTX

    Ok, someone help me, please. Getting rid of 345 doesn’t connect the neighborhoods/real estate because 75 will still be there, correct? What am I missing in this debate?

    • Los_Politico

      Chavez is 75, but it’s a surface level road. There would not be a limited access lanes traversing the area between downtown and Deep Ellum– which is what would re-connect the neighborhoods.

      • PJCTX

        I’m totally confused. 75S connecting to 45 is not surface level. I guess this article shows some options: https://www.dmagazine.com/frontburner/2017/11/i345-removal-replacement-dallas/

        I’m not sure how the real estate isn’t still very divided.

        • Los_Politico

          IH345 connects US75 and IH45; US75 connects to US175 via Cesar Chavez (which was ‘Central’ previously). The removal of IH345 would remove all of the elevated, limited access lanes that sever downtown from Deep Ellum.

          • PJCTX

            OK, but you have some issues there, right? First, how many lanes will the street-level Central be? Second, you still have to connect 75 to 45. It doesn’t make sense otherwise.

    • RompingWillyBilly

      You aren’t missing a thing. The idea is insane just as removing the borders between nations, the limits between cities, the lines between properties, the sidewalks, streets, and freeways will connect neighborhoods. Not all abstract things disconnect neighborhoods. This is all being brought to you by the same official cronies who wanted to build a freeway within the flood plain of the Trinity River.
      The Liberal Urbanites have allowed their thinking to become twisted even more than usual. Indeed, somehow they figure to benefit economically by cutting off the conservative Suburbanites from visiting the world famous Dallas Arts District! (YAWN!!)
      Hmm . . . And what about Las Colinas? Looks like its future has a lot of upside.

    • Pol Pot

      There is underused land in a prime location in one of the largest cities in North America. It is underused and therefore does not generate the tax revenue that could be realized. This gets salivating over how to get that land and develop it for its “highest use.” Highest use can be variously defined as that which gets the most tax dollars (probably high rise towers) or that which fits the New Urbanism Ideology (maybe mixed use towers) or that which people in power can develop for loads of money (probably still looking at towers).

      No one seems to want to rally around high rise towers. We have a lot, more on the way, and they typically are owned by large institutions. But connecting neighborhoods, that has a nice ring to it. And we can even pretend that it will right some of the past wrongs that were caused when highways divided neighborhoods. (Spoiler alert: State and Thomas isn’t suddenly going to become a black neighborhood again.)

      People like me that live in Deep Ellum use Canton, Commerce, Main and Elm Streets to get to downtown all the time. Those streets go directly into downtown, and they all have sidewalks. Tearing out the road in the sky, that is not used to get from Deep Ellum to downtown, will not magically make the roads and sidewalks already being used somehow more connected. When I go downtown, I watch the road in front of me. I don’t stare at I345 overhead. So, you really aren’t missing anything, there is just a lot of unstated motivations. Which explains why groups that are traditionally at odds with each other can be aligned on this.
      .

  • JohnyAlamo
    • Kyle Reese

      Thank you.