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Highway FROM HELL

THE CENTRAL REDO IS HERE! GET READY FOR THE DRIVING DISASTER OF THE DECADE!
By D Magazine |

BAD NEWS for the Texaco at Fitzhugh-Already, there is no such thing as an easy-on, easy-off gas station on Central. But the closest thing we have to that now-the self-serve Texaco at Fitzhugh-will be virtually inaccessible during construction.

BAD MEW’S for emergency vehicles-Good luck gelling to a hospital in an ambulance, your own car, or by pony express. Trauma victims will be big losers while Central is in ruins. See our chart on alternate routes so you will at least be prepared, with your last breath, to say. “Take me to Parkland – ( and to mumble some helpful suggestions on how to get there.

GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS

for NorthPark-The construction period is going to be h-e-l-1. The interchange at Northwest Highway is one of the most complicated on the entire stretch of highway. The Galleria, blessed with Its own exit from the Tollway, will benefit at the expense of NorthPark tenants during what NorthPark’s owner calls a ’ challenging” period. But years from now, NorthPark will also be a big winner.With increased access and with LBJ under construction up north, shoppers will flock back to this, their favorite spending nest.

GOOD NEWS for Cityplace-The parent company of 7-Eleven thinks Cityplace will be easily accessible throughout the construction period via the Tollway or Stemmons and zipping around on Woodall Rodgers. We agree. Ironically, the construction mess to the north may be just the push this development needs to make it the only desirable Central address of the Nineties.

BAD NEWS for the Hilton Inn-Have you ever noticed how the Central Expressway service road skims the grounds of the Hilton Inn at Mockingbird? Well, after expansion, the Hilton might want to consider a new promotion: drive-through check-in service, or drive-through rooms. Rumor has it the hotel’s owners might sue for damages.

BRACE YOURSELVES: THE DECADES-DELAYED FIX FOR North Central Expressway is about to start. And no matter what the highway engineers and planners say, it ain’t going to be pretty-or painless. Get ready for eight years of open-heart surgery on the city, an open crack in the chest of North Dallas, a traffic nightmare that will have crippling ripple effects from Texas Stadium to Lake Ray Hubbard, from Piano to downtown. No one is immune. Only radio stations with traffic ’copters will love it. And to make matters worse, when reconstruction and congestion are near their worst In 1993, Just as Dallas feels like its lungs are being ripped out, the feds will plow up LBJ from I-35 to I-30 and widen It. North Dallas will be In near-gridlock. Then, In the final stages of construction in 1995, DART, late again, will open its first rail line to the north. → Almost everyone who has knowledge of the Central project says sure, after it’s over it’ll be great. Then they smile, the blood draining from their face and lips. Right, they think, sure, If we don’t die of i frustration first. But there’s hope. First, read this North Central Survival Kit. Read all of it. You’ll feel much better. There are, you’ll discover, ways around the mess. Next, play the “Central Stress-way” game. If we can laugh at our Impending collective doom, then maybe we’ll feel better.

GOOD NEWS / BAD NEWS

MOST MAJOR PROPERTY OWNERS ALONG CENTRAL CHANT THE SAME SLOGAN – NO PAIN. NO GAIN. THE NEXT FEW YEARS WON’T BE EASY. BUT THEN, THE LAST FEW YEARS HAVE BEEN NO WALK IN THE PARK EITHER.

“EVERYBODY WHO OWNS A BUILDING ON CENTRAL KNOWS THEIR PROJECT IS WORTH LESS THAN THE LOAN ALREADY,” SAYS ONE OWNER. “WE MIGHT AS WELL GET IT DONE WHILE WE’RE AT THE BOTTOM.”

BUT ITS HARD TO PREACH THAT TO A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER WHO DOESN’T OWN HIS PROPERTY. THOUGH A CLOSE-YOUR-EYES-AND-GET-IT- OVER-WITH ATTITUDE IS PERVASIVE AMONG OWNERS OF GOING BUSINESSES ALONG CENTRAL THEY DO HAVE MUCH MORE TO LOSE IN THE SHORT TERM. REGARDLESS PROPERTY OWNERS ARE READY AND WAITING FOR THE DUST TO FLY. -SALLY GIDDENS

BAD NEWS for stores on the access road- Centennial’s Big Tex may be inviting customers to c’mon in, but new traffic on Greenville and the service road will be through traffic, less likely to slop and shop.

BAD NEWS for Park Central-“It certainly is going to be inconvenient to go to downtown meetings,” says Equitable’s Charles Klepfer. It certainly is. It’s going to be nearly the year 2000 before Park Central tenants can get to work without seeing many bright orange “Highway Construction” signs.

GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS for Greenville Avenue businesses- “It’s going to direct a lot of traffic to Greenville If you own a fast-food place, that may be good. But its going to make it exceedingly difficult for customers to get into the bank and other businesses.” Thai’s the wisdom of Greenville Avenue businessman Max Wells, Oak Bank and Trust’s chairman of the board. Greenville is going to be hard hit. Small retailers beware: your regular customers are going to complain until it drives you crazy.

Twenty-one football fields’ worth of new sod will be planted along the new Central.

Meet MicroTRIPS. He, she, or it is the computer program that figured out where the major problems will be along the alternate routes to Central.

Hundreds of live oaks along Central’s service roads will be sacrificed for concrete. There’s no way to transplant a mature live oak.

If all the rock and dirt had to be moved by hand, it would take 240 million people, each with a one-gallon bucket, four trips per person to do the job.

Alternate Routes: You Can Get There From Here

AND HERE’S HOW. Did you think that we’d just lay out the grim details of life during Reconstruction, wail and moan, and not even give you some hints as to how to make it without Central? Here are your alternate routes from the LBJ region to downtown.



#1-DOUGLAS. Preston south from LBJ to Walnut Hill, west one block to Douglas, south to Lovers, west one block to Armstrong, south to Turtle Creek, Cedar Springs to Pearl and downtown [11.5 miles, 24 minutes).



LIGHTS/STOPS: 22/12. SIGHTS/AMBIENCE: Great if you want lo keep driving, not sit; Armstrong is always lovely (Christmas lights in pecan trees, pink azaleas in spring), but beware: Highland Park border patrol thick; up-to-date license and inspection stickers a must best if car no more than hw years old; light at Armstrong/Preston can be long; consider south !o Douglas, east on Prescott to Turtle Creek HISTORY: Old neighborhoods on Douglas; brick high-rise a! Sherry Lane/Douglas is one of the most maligned real estate projects ever- it’s almost a decade old and still has no certificate of occupancy. PRACTICALIA: Good array of service stations on Preston: 7-EIeven at Oak Lawn/Herschel (just oil the beaten path) for coffee, etc COULD USE: Fewer stop signs; warning signs that you are entering Highland Park for the uninitiated.



#2-HILLCREST. From LBJ, Hillcrest south, east on Forest Lane, south on Hill Haven to St. Michaels, which turns into Boedeker, quick left on McFarlin, back onto Boedeker, west on Yale to Dublin, west on Mockingbird to Abbott, south on Abbott to Fitzhugh, east on Fitzhugh to Cole, curve around on Allen to McKinney, east on North Harwood to Woodall Rodgers (10 miles, 32 minutes).

LIGHTS/STOPS: 24/17 SIGHTS/AMBIENCE: Mostly residential through North Dallas, University Park, Highland Park: fade to hip/bendy at McKinney. HISTORY; Glimpse back of Mrs Baird’s 37-year-old bakery and smell stall of life; side view of new, improved Ownby Stadium. PRACTICALIA: 7-Eleven. Texaco, cleaners, Mrs Baird’s thrift store, La Madeleine, drugstore on Mockingbird near Central. COULD USE: Fewer turns.

#3-EAST DALLAS. Audelia south from LBJ, jog west on Northwest Highway to Buckner Boulevard south, southwest (right) on Garland Road, which becomes Cast Grand. East Grand past Tenison Park. Take I-30 service road {don’t get on I-30) down to Munger. Northwest (right) on Munger and bear to the left. Veer left at Collett just past railroad trucks. Immediate south on Columbia, which becomes Main, then downtown through Deep Ellum (16.7 miles, 33 minutes).

LIGHTS/STOPS 20/2 SIGHTS/AMBIENCE. Drive through While Rock and past Tenison Park makes peaceful interlude. Seven school zones. HISTORY: Flagpole Hill, ancient Mount Auburn Elementary on East Grand: Brownies’ restaurant at East Grand/Beacon; old, old East Dallas homes on Lindsley, etc; intamous Tejas Wrecker Service headquarters on Main. PRACTICALIA: Doctors Hospital, numerous banks, cleaners, donuteries, video stores around Casa Linda Shopping Center; stretch of automotive repair shops on Garland Road. COULD USE Breakfast spot on the right where Garland becomes East Grand. 7-Eleven is coming at Garland Road and Winsted.

IN THE BEGINNING…



THE NORTH CENTRAL EXPRESSWAY YOU KNOW AND HATE WAS a state-of-the-art feat of traffic engineering when it first opened in the early Fifties. Life magazine published a picture of it as an example of how folks will get around in the bright and shining future. But highway planners knew something was amiss even as the Life photographer snapped away. “Even then,” says Walt Humann of Hunt Consolidated Inc., a longtime champion of the current Central Solution, “they knew the ramps were too short.” And the opinions of highway experts and motorists plummeted from that time-the road was too wavy and curvy, making the line of sight too short for safe braking; the underpasses flooded in heavy rains; it wasn’t wide enough; its bridges were ugly. Central became one of the most maligned and cursed stretches of highway in the state.

The Fifties and Sixties were the “Uh-Oh” decades, when we learned just how inadequate Central was as a major traffic artery. In the Seventies and Eighties, we entered the “Say, what if…” years, when everyone had solutions but nobody bought them. The motto for the Nineties? Try “Aaargh!” Now it’s lime to pay the price.

In 1980, we came within a skinny hair’s breadth of getting a double-decked Central Expressway. The City Council voted for it, then a few months later voted against it. It was a political hot potato. Neighborhoods didn’t like double-decking because they thought it would be too noisy and ugly. Of course, that meant city politicians didn’t like it. The state highway department, however, loved the idea. It took Walt Humann to pull a solution out of political never-never land.

Then-mayor Starke Taylor appointed Humann to chair a new task force (the good ol’ Dallas way) that looked at all the options, including double-decking and trying to get most of the money from the feds. But in the end, the current solution won out. No double-decking, no federal funding. That was five years ago, but the Central-jockeying didn’t stop there.

Things came to a head again after the crushing defeat, in the 1988 referen dum. of DART’s super-expensive plans to bore two subway tunnels underneath Central. Everyone threw up his hands in despair; the entire Central Solution was in jeopardy. Then came Walt Humann-again. It occurred to him that concrete boxes could be built beneath Central’s service roads and DART’s tracks laid there. At first, both DART and state highway engineers were doubtful, but after they calculated that the utilities (which were to have been buried beneath the service roads) could hang from the ceiling of the boxes and still leave enough clearance for rail cars, the plan was adopted.

So for now, almost everyone is happy. At least until the first traffic jams.

-Jeff Posey

In trafficspeak, the gang of cars that moves more or less together from traffic signal to traffic signal is called a platoon.

Those dedicated U-turns on over or underpasses are called Texas U-turns; seems Texas was the first to build them, and the term is used nationwide.

Traffic Level A means nobody but you on the road; Level D: you can change lanes and drive steadily, but other idiots keep cutting you off.

Texas A&M estimates that Dallas drivers and business owners lose $1.1 billion every year due to traffic congestion in this city.

Central STRESSWAY THE RULES



Danny DeVito, in The War of the Roses, says “There is no winning-only degrees of losing.” He’s talking about divorce, but he could be talking about CENTRAL STRESSWAY. It is possible to win this game, but even the winners will go through unbelievable weirdness before they finally reach downtown. Some of it will seem incredible, almost like science fiction. But anyone who has suffered on Central before the reconstruction knows that on Central Expressway, as in the Twilight Zone and the Bermuda Triangle, anything can happen-and it probably will.

On CENTRAL STRESSWAY, players will face frantic, frustrated drivers. Madmen with bulldozers. Bizarre riders who are suddenly thrust into your car pool. And as you creep along, block by block, the dreaded Stress Points mount up.. Some will crack under the strain. Some will disappear onto the feeder road to infinity…Others will sue the city. Anything can happen.


OBJECT

To get from LBJ to downtown with the fewest Stress Points.



COMPONENTS

1. Player tokens (cars on insert behind the game). 2. Instructions. 3. Game board. 4. Game cards. 5. Ultimate Weapon cards. You provide: One die. pad, and pens.



IMPORTANT STUFF

1. Tear out the game board and place face down on a table. Cut out the game cards, cars, and Ultimate Weapon cards. Shuffle the game cards and place them face down on the table.

Each player keeps his Ultimate Weapon card for use in desperate moments (see instructions to the right).

Each player keeps a running tally of his or her Stress Points (the lowest possible count is zero-no negative numbers).



TO BEGIN PLAY

Game may be played by 2 to 4 players-and more, if you want to provide your own little cars.

Roll the die to determine who plays first; high roll wins. Play passes to the left.

3. First player rolls the die and moves counter-clockwise around the outer square Follow instructions on the space where you land; your turn continues as long as you’re instructed to move forward or roll again.

BUT if instructions order you to go back to a space, your turn is over when you return to the earlier space. Do not follow the instructions printed on the space you were sent back to.

4. If you’re instructed to draw a card, draw from the pile, follow instructions, and return the card to the bottom of the pile unless the card tells you otherwise.

You may move from space to space regardless of whether another player is on that space.

Each player must enter the inner loop (Woodall Rodgers) by landing exactly on the space adjacent to (he entry point; once you enter the inner loop, proceed counter-clockwise. You also need an exact roll to get into downtown at the end of the game.

EXPRESS LANE

When you land on a space that instructs you to TAKE THE EXPRESS LANE OR DRAW A CARD, or when you draw a card that allows you to take the Express Lane, you may overtake the player immediately ahead of you as follows: you and the player each roll the die. If your roll is higher, you switch places with the person you challenged; if your roll is lower, you go back 2 blocks; if it’s a tie, both players go back 2 blocks. Taking the express lane from the outer to the inner loop is allowed. If you switch places, neither player follows the instructions on the block he or she winds up on. The turn is over. NOTE: if there are two or more players on the square you’re trying to reach, you must choose ONE player to challenge.



ULTIMATE WEAPON CARDS

The Ultimate Weapon card is to be used only when you’re hopelessly behind or when someone else is on (he verge of winning the game. You may play the card ONLY ONCE, on your turn only. By playing the card, you have decided to pull your car to the shoulder and fake a heart attack. You roll the die to see what happens. If you:

Roll 1: Cops and medics believe you! You’re medicoptered to the hospital, where you mysteriously recover and hop a cab to work. You win the game!

Roll 2 or 3: They believe you, but you’re stuck in a slow-moving ambulance. Gain 2 blocks.

Roll 4 or 5: You get so nervous once the paramedics arrive that you suffer actual chest pains. Go back 2 blocks and add 5 Stress Points.

Roll 6: You’re found out, arrested, and jailed. You’re out of the game, and you deserve it for such a despicable stunt.



STRESS TEST

If you land on the STRESS TEST block, you must total up your Stress Points gathered so far. If you have 0-10, you’re in good health; roll again. If you have more than 10, you have no choice but to SUE THE CITY and roll the die:

Roll 1 or 2: You win the suit! The city intends to appeal, but fails to file on time. Drop 5 Stress Points and move up 2 blocks.

Roll 3 or 4: You win the suit, but the city vows to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court, with no verdict likely until July 1997. Go back 2 blocks.

Roll 5 or 6: You lose the suit, and city countersues over inflammatory statements you made in D cover story, “Central: The Deadly Dilemma.” Go back to the hospital square and spend one turn recovering.



HOW TO WIN

The person who reaches downtown with the fewest Stress Points wins. THIS IS NOT A RACE. If you get there first, but a later player arrives with fewer Stress Points, that player wins. NOTE: There is one exception: if a player uses the Ultimate Weapon card and rolls a 1, that player wins, and the game is over.

-Technical assistance by Laura Jacobus

CREATED BY CHRIS TUCKER



Bollards, anyone? They’re two-foot-high decorative concrete balls that will line the walkways across overpasses to protect pedestrians from homicidal auto pilots.

No exit? The new Central will have only a third as many ramps as it has now, but they will be more than twice as long as the current models.

With the $750 million being spent on the new Central, one lane from Plano to downtown could be packed with new Rolls-Royces.

If two million cows lined up along Central, they would weigh as much as the 2.4 billion pounds of concrete that will be used in the new Central.

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