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Politics & Government

State Sen. Royce West Has a Conflict of Interest on I-345

His son wants to build soccer fields under the highway.
By Tim Rogers |

Tonight brings us the first in a series of public meetings hosted by TxDOT to discuss the future of I-345. Folks will gather at St. Philip’s School & Community Center at 6 p.m.

On Tuesday of last week, State Sen. Royce West sent an email to constituents urging them to turn out and defend the elevated highway. “Don’t sleep on your rights!” West wrote. “Residents, community and religious leaders, and business owners needed at all three meetings. Come out and speak for yourself and the highway that brings you home, takes you to work, or connects you to other parts of the city and DFW!” In a DMN story that was posted Friday, West made it sound like the option of tearing down the old highway is nothing but a land grab orchestrated by developers.

That’s an interesting take from the senator, given that his own son, Roddrick West, is trying to get control of the land under the highway so that he can build some sort of soccer complex. And it looks like he’s doing it with help from Michael Morris, the transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments. Obviously, if the highway were removed, West’s son couldn’t have his soccer complex. This would seem to be a conflict of interest, not unlike all the other conflicts of interest recently revealed by West’s run for the U.S. Senate.

Last week, I sent the senator a note. “I’d like to speak with you about I-345,” I wrote, “specifically about your son’s plans to build soccer fields under the highway. When are you available?”

West replied: “You need to visit with him about his project.”

I explained that Roddrick is not a state senator and that I’d really like to talk with the senator. That was Wednesday. Royce West hasn’t responded. At this point, I expect he won’t.

Again, this is a series of meetings. Below is the email West sent to his constituents; in it, he gives the times and locations for the other meetings this week. As West says, don’t sleep on your rights. Or on your senator’s conflicts of interest.

Email sent November 26:

Dear Friend of Senate District 23:

I wanted to make you aware of these upcoming meetings that are of importance regarding the transportation system in your community.

What is I-345 and what is this about?

Maybe that is your response to notice of a series of public meetings hosted by TxDOT beginning Monday, December 2 at St. Philip’s School & Community Center at 6:00 p.m. To start, I-345 is the elevated section of highway overlooking Downtown Dallas from the east, north of the I-30 Mixmaster and south of Woodall Rogers Frwy.

Discussion to level this heavily-used roadway was initiated by realtors and developers started earlier this decade. They see the land beneath this publicly-owned section of the interstate highway system as ripe for private development. They argue that north and southbound traffic that approaches 200,000 daily can be routed through the city street grid or sent out to 635.

While there is credence that the construction of I-45 that traverses South Dallas and Oak Cliff permanently divided those neighborhoods, the current S.M. Wright Project returns SH310 to a surface-level boulevard that could tie South Dallas back together, roughly between US175/Hawn Frwy. and MLK Blvd. But what must be considered is what happens to the thousands who travel daily on I-30, US175, I-45 and I-35E/US 67 to destinations north of Downtown Dallas to jobs that include the Presbyterian and Medical City medical complexes, the telecom corridor and now, even DISD headquarters?

Related meetings will be held the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, Monday, December 2 ,and Tuesday – December 3 and Thursday – December 5 as the first public meetings where input taken will help decide whether I-345 will remain as is, be rebuilt similar to US75 N. Central Expwy., or other proposed ideas. Don’t sleep on your rights! Residents, community and religious leaders, and business owners needed at all three meetings. Come out and speak for yourself and the highway that brings you home, takes you to work, or connects you to other parts of the city and DFW!

NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETINGS Proposed Improvements to Interstate 345 (I-345) from I-30 to Woodall Rodgers Freeway (Spur 366) Dallas County, Texas CSJ: 0092-14-094 The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is conducting a feasibility study for improvements to I-345 from I-30 to Woodall Rodgers Freeway in Dallas County, a distance of 1.4 miles. TxDOT will conduct three public meetings to discuss and receive public comments on the feasibility study. All three meetings will present the same information and will be held in an open house format with one formal presentation at 7:00 p.m. The meeting scheduled for December 5 will have three presentation times: noon, 4:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Representatives from TxDOT and project consultants will be available to answer questions about the feasibility study and process. The meeting dates, times, and locations are listed below.

Monday, Dec. 2, 2019 6:00 pm. to 8:00 p.m. Presentation at 7:00 p.m. St. Philip’s School and Community Center 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Dallas, Texas 75215 Served by DART bus route 002.

Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 6:00 pm. to 8:00 p.m. Presentation at 7:00 p.m. CityPlace Conference Center Lakewood Room, First Floor 2711 N. Haskell Avenue Dallas, Texas 75204 Served by DART red, blue and orange rail lines to CityPlace/Uptown Station and bus routes 036, 409, 521.

Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Presentations at noon, 4:30 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. Sheraton Dallas Hotel Dallas Ballroom, First Floor 400 N. Olive Street Dallas, Texas 75201 Served by DART red, blue, green and orange rail lines to the Pearl Street Station and bus routes 024, 036, 084.

I will keep you updated on the issue.

Have a Happy & Safe Thanksgiving,

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