It’s official. Uber is opening an office in Deep Ellum that will eventually employ 3,000 people. The company will have 400 people in place by year’s end. The mayor, the county judge, the governor, the Dallas Regional Chamber — everyone is super pumped about the decision to give Uber $36 million in incentives to set up shop. So good on us. I hope this works out. I’ll put aside for now my concerns about whether the company will ever turn a profit. Never mind the 400 employees who were laid off in July. Course correction. It’s all good.
Except wait a second here. One passage in the DMN story about the news caught my attention. It’s this:
Michael Morris, the director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, proposed committing $10 million to $15 million to improve transportation in and around Uber’s office. Among the ideas, he suggested improving nearby sidewalks and bike connections, turning land under Interstate 345 into recreational or parking space …
Pardon? Improving sidewalks and bike connections sounds good. But more surface-level parking? These people work at Uber. Why would they get excited about parking lots? How does that make any sense?
And recreation space under the highway? You mean like the land grab that Royce West’s kid is attempting by building soccer fields? Despite what we are learning about pollution created by cars? A huge study was published just last week showing that exposure to ground-level ozone, fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and black carbon — you know, car stuff — is basically like smoking a pack of cigarettes every day. Why take up smoking when you can move to Dallas and play under our highways? Great incentive.
I don’t know why Morris, the COG transportation director, said what he did. But what he should have said was: “Uber’s move to the edge of Deep Ellum makes it even more imperative that we tear down I-345, the elevated highway that practically abuts their new office. Developing that dead space, restitching the fabric of Deep Ellum and downtown — we can use Uber’s move as a fulcrum to lift this project to the top of our to-do list. I propose committing $10 million to $15 million to make it happen.”