Massive TxDOT report weighs major Dallas highway overhauls, including teardown of I-345

Dallas Business Journal, 10 June 2016
Bill Hethcock, Staff Writer

The Texas Department of Transportation today released its highly anticipated Dallas CityMAP report, a major study of the highway system in and around downtown that offers multiple scenarios to solve mounting congestion and other problems along Interstates 30, 35E, 45, 345 and others.

The compendium offers two major alternatives on I-30, three alternatives on I-345, and a map for improvements to lower Stemmons, for starters. Among other controversial options, CityMAP presents the scenario of tearing down the elevated I-345 highway.

Atop a heliport overlooking a swirl of highways, Mayor Mike Rawlings said the 341-page document holds the data necessary to make smart decisions about the future of mobility in the city. The city and other stakeholders previously lacked data about what things cost, how many cars were on the road and other crucial information.

The CityMAP document lays out “what is the art of the possible,” Rawlings said.

“It’s a remarkable document,” Rawlings said. “It has a scale and a scope that has never been attempted in this city before.”

He added later: “If you want to hear my priority, it’s I-30, I-30, I-30.”

The report “disproves the erroneous notion that Dallas is a bypass on the way to the suburbs of North Texas,” Rawlings said.

Instead, the people who use the highways in and around downtown are, for the most part, destined for downtown or the surrounding areas in the city of Dallas, the mayor said.

The study highlights the need to fix the Interstate 30 canyon, which divides Dallas, Rawlings said. The city and transportation officials need to drop I-30 and connect Fair Park and the rest of the city, he said.

“For too long, our southern Dallas neighbors have been torn apart by highways,” he said. “Highways have grown north Dallas and the suburbs up in that area, but we have not been able to take transportation and make it an enabler for the growth of southern Dallas.”

Victor Vandergriff, the Texas transportation commissioner who spearheaded the study, said more than 200 stakeholders participated in the process.

“We listened to our customers — all of them — and we gave life to the ideas that they wanted to see happen,” he said. Vandergriff called CityMAP the beginning of the journey, not the end.

Gov. Greg Abbott has a congestion initiative, and six of the top 25 corridors the governor wants targeted are in downtown Dallas, Vandergriff said.

With the passage of Propositions 1 and 7, Dallas is in a prime position to take advantage of transportation funding that will pour into the system, he said.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the entire county benefits when the Dallas urban core mobility is improved.

“CityMAP looks at not only transportation, but the vitality of the heart of Dallas, the vitality of the heart of the region, and certainly the vitality of the heart of Dallas County,” Jenkins said. “That heart is downtown Dallas. No other organ will thrive without a strong beating heart.”

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