Thank God TXDOT has more sense than you and rest of the supporters of this nonsense. Best it dies an early and ignominious death. Now let's get on to something useful like raising Downtown Dallas and turning it into a Bike Park.
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The idea is to blow up, tear down, erase, make go away an entire elevated freeway at the eastern end of downtown Dallas. Chechen rebels couldn't do better than that. But the region's most powerful transportation planning official recently shrugged and dismissed the scheme to tear down I-345, the elevated freeway span separating Deep Ellum and downtown, as "the do-nothing option."
Do-nothing? Tearing down a freeway? Maybe. It depends on who you are and how you view the future — that's the trick in attempting to understand the tear-it-down idea. This isn't really about politics. It's more out-there than that. This is about people having visions.
Close your eyes. Relax. Try to envision the perfect place to live. No fair thinking about mountains, beaches or anything French. This is just about your block, your 'hood, the area right around you in real life. See it. Hear it.
Maybe your vision is silent. Do you see the smooth blue surface of a swimming pool, a green yard at the dead end of a vast band of bone-white concrete? Or noisy. Do you hear people calling down to friends from second-floor apartments, a trolley clanging, heels clattering on sidewalks, an outdoor tablecloth snapping in the breeze? That's what the debate over tearing down I-345 is all about. This is The War of the Visions.
If you think of visionaries as hippies, however, you won't recognize the two people coming into this coffee shop on an early morning in an old house in the State-Thomas District north of downtown. These are the two guys who first proposed tearing down this particular freeway. Brandon Hancock, 32, is a real estate developer. Patrick Kennedy, 35, owns a design firm that works mainly for mixed-use developers.
Their idea is already inspiring long-winded editorials and foghorn treatises in the daily newspaper, setting off cranky debates at obscure regional planning agencies and being treated so carefully by the mayor he could be disarming a nuclear device.
The two men seem stunned. "We never started off for glory," Hancock says. "It was just a project we were working on. The fact that it's gotten this far is beyond what we ever thought would happen."
Kennedy says they started out just talking socially about something called the "Dallas 360 Plan," a big planning document adopted by the City Council last year to spur downtown rebirth. In it they thought they saw a lot of not very smart politics and little to no market savvy.
"Basically me and Brandon were talking one night about how the 360 Plan was all basically cost and subsidy, and it wasn't using the market in a way that would make development profitable," Kennedy says.
Indeed the situation downtown is worse than that. Local politics involved in divvying up federal subsidy money has earned the city a major black mark levied last year by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, still unresolved. HUD has accused Dallas City Hall of deliberately practicing racism in its downtown development policies.
Hancock and Kennedy see another shortcoming in the 360 Plan. "The city would have to subsidize every single project," Kennedy says. "That's what we're seeing in downtown right now. Everybody's got their hands out for $50 million for a project."
Their idea is to take down the freeway, package the land with other public holdings, create an entity to hold it and then use the land as an incentive to spur mixed-use development including affordable residential, office and retail space. The resulting new community, they say, would knit together the Deep Ellum entertainment district, the Baylor medical district and the eastern end of downtown.
Invited to close their eyes and envision the area 10 years from now, they say they see tree-lined boulevards, lots of cycling, apartments, shops and office uses in low-, mid- and high-rise buildings. But they aren't really close-your-eyes guys. They began two years ago using their own business experience and technical expertise to study the market realities.
They came up with numbers to show two things. Land costs in the target area are too high to allow that kind of development without massive public subsidy, but greatly reducing land cost, even giving it away, would spur between $4 billion and $6.5 billion in investment in the area, providing a bonanza for city tax coffers instead of an endless drain.
"Why don't we drive demand?" Kennedy says. "Take out the highway, create land, and all of a sudden we've got a desirable neighborhood that everybody wants to be a part of."
Two measures of how seriously their idea is being taken and how persuasive some people have found their numbers: Neither the officials at Baylor, with a vast institutional presence in the area, nor the major investors in Deep Ellum, pouring money into the ground over the last several years for a major redevelopment initiative, have called for Hancock and Kennedy to be hanged. Instead they all want to talk to them.
Kristi Sherrill Hoyl, vice president of external and governmental affairs for Baylor Health Care System, says Baylor has met with the mayor on the idea. "There was some discussion with the mayor about a study to look at it," she says, "and I think we're very supportive of that."
Thank God TXDOT has more sense than you and rest of the supporters of this nonsense. Best it dies an early and ignominious death. Now let's get on to something useful like raising Downtown Dallas and turning it into a Bike Park.
Tear it down, but put up a public park in the entire swath of land reclaimed. No private development ever. I'd visit every day and smile like a smug jerk thinking about how Kennedy's buddy wouldn't make a cent off the land ever.
Why hasn't anyone suggested a tunnel? Freeway stays, and developers get paid! Tunnel could even be a toll.
So, this is all about replacing a FREEway that we've already paid for, use and need - with another TOLLway that nobody wants, and many people won't be able to use.
Burying only the portion of I-345 which would connect downtown with Deep Ellum would then connect the rest of East Dallas with downtown through Deep Ellum. This is what happened in Uptown. Victory Park and the State Thomas area are connected with downtown through just a small portion of Uptown freed up by burying a short portion of Woodall Rogers. You can't have your cake and eat it too, but you can always compromise on a grilled cheese sandwich along with that of a dessert of carrot cake.
In other words, we don't have to be hippy liberal here or elevated conservative. Understand, regardless of our position, the government officials only care about kick backs that they receive from the cronies they put to work. The more expensive and irrational the better.
Just do the right thing. That right thing has already worked in Uptown.
A Trinity River Project for the hipster crowd. Another group of developers, consultants and assorted project parasites get lots of money.
The name, I-345, is a kind of technical term for a section of Central
Expressway/U.S. Highway 75 where it runs across the eastern end of
downtown and hooks up with Interstate 30 and I-45 at the southern end. I drive this every day for 34 mile round trip to avoid the craziest drivers and scenarios. I don't care about your stinking vistas, Dallas.
345 is ugly and I hate it. But I live close to downtown and regularly have to get from the NW side of it to the East side during evening rush hour, and even though the route is less than 7 miles, it takes 45 min. WHICHEVER way I go (I've tried EVERY possible route). I don't see how eliminating a major artery is an option.
(Here's an idea: outlaw trucks inside Loop 12 unless they're actually delivering something to or from within that loop.)
This plan requires a gigantic giveaway to developers. Who wouldn't like the City to give them some of the most valuable land in North Texas? Too bad if it causes other citizens and businesses a gazillion man-hours in stalled traffic.
Let's keep an eye on donations to City politiicians from the those who stand to benefit from such a deal.
Here's a low tech way to do it overnight. Make Main Street a no-car, pedestrian walkway from Downtown through Deep Ellum to Fair Park. Then take it across the river to one of the main roads there in Oak Cliff .
This would be Dallas's "Riverwalk". This would tie in all these areas, revitalize all 3, make a reason for people to go, shop, and live downtown, put eyes on the street, add some police on bikes or walking, add food carts, etc.
Unimaginable that 345 would be gone! Ugly thing. It is completely jammed at least twice a day. Where would everyone go? I drive to and from Rockwall every day (which sucks) but how would I get there from 75? Northwest Hwy? Yikes!
That rectangle of highways around downtown really is disgusting! We got ourselves into this mess by NOT doing any forward thinking. Being progressive is not a Dallas or Texas thing. We're just a bunch of apes fighting for money without regard for our future.
We are a centrally located fossil fuel rich state with a non-progressive ethic. How grim.
Such a good debate to be having. A lot of good points are being made on both sides. I really hope this project gets traction. This would really help Dallas to become a city with a strong core, not just a collection of disparate neighborhoods.
On the one hand, the boys complain that "the 360 Plan was all basically cost and subsidy and it wasn't using the market in a way that would make development profitable"...
and then we find that their plan wants to "drive demand" -- in other words, create "demand" where No Pre-Existing Demand Exists" and to do THAT, the plan would
"Take out the highway, create land, and all of a sudden we've got a desirable neighborhood that everybody wants to be a part of." [But WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR 'taking out the highway'?Maybe "cost and subsidy"?I know.Let's just get the U.S. Air Force to bomb the freeway for FREE -- or would that be a subsidy too...?]
The story continues that "The idea that scraping [paid for by whom?], opening up and giving away a lot of raw land [owned by whom?] in the center of a major city would spur investment [GOTCHA!Free Land = BIG PROFITS.fl = BP] is pretty straightforward, but it does raise a question. What happens to the traffic?"[Bigger question:Who gets the profits? And for what kind of and how much actual WORK?]
There is nothing in Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations which talks about "creating demand" which is better termed "forcing demand".Smith saw demand pre-existing supply and real competition among suppliers to meet pre-existing demand.He also never talked about "niche markets" -- which this is and would be.
Since we are all up into the concept of "private property" and "right to make a profit" in this empire, let's talk about who already OWNS the so-called "raw land" and WHAT KIND OF PROFIT THEY WILL MAKE from SELLING rather than GIVING this so-called "raw land" away.And of COURSE, let's not EVEN THINK about the fact that all this so-called "private property" was originally STOLEN from the Indians who profited not from the theft or from the genocide which accompanied it.
Let's also talk about the cost of tearing down the freeway -- and WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THAT?
Two words on who owns the land and who will pay to tear down the freeway:
Two More Words:"Bank Bailout".
Two More Words:"GM Bailout."
If you like the bank and GM bailouts and all the corporate subsidies/taxpayer giveaways at EVERY level of government, then you will REALLY LIKE THIS.
And what of this "entity" that would "hold" the land?Why could it not be the City of Dallas?Of if not the City of Dallas, then why not an "entity" that is democratic -- you know, ELECTED by the stakeholders in the entity like the residents and shoppers and park-walkers and bike riders and car drivers in AUTHENTIC democratic elections?
That would interfere with profitability, wouldn't it?
This is not some altruistic pie-in-the-sky daydreamer plan to benefit humanity. This is ALL ABOUT making BIG PROFITS. By STEALING LAND and GETTING THE GOVERNMENTS TO TEAR DOWN THE FREEWAY FOR FREE. Period.
Government is NOT intended to be an open ATM for capitalist profiteers. Maybe that is why the Libertarians seem to be making more and more sense.
Do they see the traffic backed up into my neighborhood?
The only way this happens is if it gets buried.
Here are my issues with this entire plan.
1. Traffic Scientists are little more than construction company shills, they can bend numbers for any purpose. Want proof, look at the congestion you have now with finished highways.
2. This exchange is vital for the millions and perhaps billions of dollars of goods that flow from the port of Houston to anywhere north. Tearing this exchange down without an alternate highway is an automatic no go from a trucking perspective. You are adding a significant burden to Interstate Transit.
3. What faith would you have that even if this happened, that the City of Dallas would do one thing right in setting up the City Utopia you are looking for? We live in a city of tollways and dumb decisions like renovating 635 and 1-35 at the same time. Letting events and money flow to places like Frisco and Arlington. Who in Dallas holds a plan that has things like this considered? Nobody, thats who.
@JustAcitizen You are niave if you think this reclaimed land would go to public use. If you look at what's happening now you'll see cheaply built apartments being built to make a quick buck while developers wait for the time when they can build high rise buildings. This will not unite Deep Elum to downtown it will kill Deep Elum.
@bvckvs This freeway has substantial problems. It's very, very ugly. It gets very badly congested but unfortunately the other options are too expensive to even consider. Despite the desire of these young men to free us from the bonds of a highway superstructure the fact is that we need some way to get people from here to there and right now that's a highway. To burrow under the ground or rebuild this section would take at least 25 years because they will still need right of way. We also should fix up the light rail so that we can create intersecting lines for it at the same time. This is a very, very expensive proposition. We can't do it without federal money and we surely don't want Spain to own yet another section of Dallas. Imperial Mexico didn't really lose - because Spain "owns" the commercial rights to Sam Rayburn right now. Let's not give them another chance. We need solutions I'm just not sure anyone has good ones yet.
@mrbusyb Yeah the right thing Uptown - boy that's been a resounding success. Has anyone SEEN Lemmon Avenue lately? What about Oaklawn? Have we taken a look at the unnatural concrete beauty around Turtle Creek? No. No Uptown isn't a substantial success - it's a boon dawgle. Someone should be ashamed. I've seen pictures of war zones that look better than 75 & Lemmon Avenue! And let's not talk about North / South McKinney Avenue. Oh yes - Uptown is just beautiful - EXCEPT if you have to drive there. Don't even GET me started on Mockingbird Lane from the N Tollway to Love Field - what a shameful experience. The money's going somewhere and it's not into Dallas infrastructure. The state needs to send in auditors because Dallas is a political cesspool. No it's wonderful - as long as you ignore the roads and bridges. THEN it's like the Emperor's new cloths.
@WhiteWhale Indeed wise whitewhale. But why not duplicate the success of Uptown? Having a lot of green in place of that elevated freeway is just as about as likely as building lakes in the Trinity River bed. And think about the wisdom of creating a Road Kill toll way within that moccasin infested park? Bumper to bumper traffic spewing out fumes to kill all that lush greenery. And then it is supposed to flood the parkway much of the time. Having built that parkway, then the levees won't be as effective in preventing flood waters from spilling over into 12 billion dollars worth of infrastructure.
Hmmm . . . what to do? What to do?
@carolyn197 It's funneling cars into freeways that creates stalled traffic. Traffic that is dispersed is less subject to blockage.
@Musea Riverwalks only work when you control flooding. The reason there's development along the San Antonio River is because it isn't a real river. It's a bypass. A dam keeps water there at a constant level.
@NickMDal Indeed, Nick. If a tree falls in the forest, you aren't sure if it makes a sound. However, if the tree was never there, then you know for sure.
When I was just a wee little chitlin driving over with my mummy dearest to visit my grandmother, there existed no such thing as the elevated portion of I-345. During that time, there was no air conditioning either. We got off at downtown, drove through it on the expressway that now hooks up to state 175 and then took I-30 to I-35.
But I'm just for doing the job right. We know what has already worked in Uptown and it still has a freeway. Meanwhile, we know that city leaders speak out of both ends of their orifices. All that green space doesn't equal money if they are converted into insect infested greenery.
Remember, the shortest distance between point A and a beaver is right up the middle. And the fastest way for city officials to lick upon such cronyism is more and more money.
Parks ain't money.
JBrooks, as I have mentioned, I'm all for fixing I 345, and helping development in the area, but eliminating it completely just seems like a fool's dream. But I guess discussing it is the best way to figure out the best way to proceed.
Can we at least wait until the horseshoe project is complete before we start worrying about this deal, though. Nowhere do I see this being any kind of pressing issue.
And as I mentioned before, it seems like the three blocks of downtown surface parking lots are the bigger hinderance to people connecting downtown to Deep Ellum than walking under a freeway. And you can easily drive up Canton, Main, or Commerce to get to Deep Ellum, so again, I don't really see any kind of pressing issue here.
@thomprentice1 A highway is a socialist endeavor. It's strange you're so wedded to this government program that return of land to the private sector bothers you.
To point number 2, for energy efficiency, air quality, quality of life and expense reasons, those goods should travel by train and not truck.
"2. This exchange is vital for the millions and perhaps billions of dollars of goods that flow from the port of Houston to anywhere north. Tearing this exchange down without an alternate highway is an automatic no go from a trucking perspective. You are adding a significant burden to Interstate Transit. "
Who cares? I dont care.
If 18 wheelers need to get from Houston to Oklahoma they can go around the city by using 635. I don't want 18 wheelers that hog the freeway and leave an incredible amount of pollution using the center of Dallas as a shortcut to get to Oklahoma.
I would like you to consider a second point.
There are a number of cities along I-35 (Laredo, San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Dallas, OKC) which is why it is filled with 18 wheelers.
What is there between Houston and Dallas on I-45? Not a whole lot.
What exactly is north of 75? Very little until you get to Tulsa.
That is why there are not as many 18 wheelers on 45 South and 75 North compared to 35.
Expensive? A tunnel wouldn't be that expensive. Look at the tunnel in Addison. How did that little town in North Dallas do it? The elevated freeway in downtown Dallas is a staple of Big D. I'm from Dallas. I grew up here. It would be a travesty to just tear it down and not replace it with at least a tunnel. Tunnel would be short. It's not that big of a stretch of road to I30 from 75. I say BUILD A TUNNEL! Bostons entire road structure all around the downtown area is underground. Why can't we have a short tunnel?
@dfwenigma Consider how the city of Houston doesn't even have the luxury to complain about a Lemmon Avenue or a Mockingbird Lane? Both of those streets have unique retail. If all that retail wasn't in place, I'd call the areas distressed. I'm thinking fixing up those streets is left up to all the luxury shopping located along each. Simply put, Highland Park Village simply doesn't desire a stretch of road that would increase the vehicle count. As it is, customers drive in from as far away as twenty-two surrounding states.
Back to Houston, while it does have a store on the level of Northpark Center, it has nothing to compete with Highland Park Village. And have you ever seen the commercial between downtown Houston and Hobby airport? Just how would you go about rebuilding Lemmon Avenue without hurting the business of all that retail built up along it?
@kduble @carolyn197 Like I said, I've tried every possible alternate route, completely avoiding the freeway as well as using various portions of it -- I've taken Irving/Riverfront to S. Dallas and then cut over to the East; I've tried taking Wycliff to Haskell; and everything in between. It takes 45 min. to go less than 7 miles however you slice it; and removing one of those arteries can only make things worse.
@MikeO The Highway doesn't stop you from getting to deep ellum physically, just mentally. Just like Uptown was never really seperated from downtown before the Klyde Warren park- just mentally. I agree that the parking lots are just as much a hindrance to life in downtown, but part of the problem is the messed up real estate market there. There's no incentive for them to sell their land to anyone that wasn't paying premium price to build a huge skyscraper. It's extremely hard to get land fro mid-rise mixed units with commerce and apartments, something that is a staple of other major cities. This plan may be a pipe dream, but the ability to auction off the new develop-able land at a lower starting price would hopefully influence the other owners in downtown to sell for better use. With a better market there's no reason downtown couldn't look like uptown's growth in the past ten years.
@MikeO It is a pressing issue to those looking to line their pockets
@kduble @thomprentice1Strange that you can't grasp that the land was STOLEN FROM THE INDIANS so therefore there is NO ANAL-RETENTIVE TITLE TO GOV't OR WHITE MALES FOR THE PROPERTY and that the 95 MILLION INDIANS WERE KILLED BY WHITE MALES for people like you to sneer at the conceit of private property? Finish the fifth grade, why don't you, before sneering, I mean smearing your defiant ignorance and stupidity all over the internet? Have a great day.
@colinnwn Well its actually cheaper to do it by truck in most cases. Not to be prickley, but since when have you known Dallas to care about anything other than expense :)
@DerrickJones First off, as a commuter who goes between Dallas and Houston and Dallas and Austin weekly, its at least 40% trucks on 45, and about 50% on 35. Second point is that a seaport services more than TX and Oklahoma, it basically services TX, OK, AR, KS, NE, CO. NM, ND, SD, MO. 35 and 45 are the primary feeds for all goods and services north of the gulf and west of the Mississippi. Its not getting messed with without input from those industries, which have powerful lobbies. So no, the city is not going to cut this out anytime soon until the Interstate commerce question is answered.
@texasbubba2 Total cost of the 6.5 mile Boston Tunnel, also known as "the Big Dig", $22.5 MILLION dollars. Tell you what - you find the money - this in a city where they can't repair the roads they've got and it's a deal. LBJ's mentor, the veteran politician, Everett Dirksen, (a Republican), said, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money." He and Mike Mansfield together forged great legislation. But that was in the days before Beaner the Boehner and Co. We haven't had cooperation like that in about 45 years! So that tunnel...nice pipe dream.
@rrsull @mrbusyb Okay, but there comes a time when complaining about the skinny streets in Nice, France becomes absurd. Those streets in Nice, France are just as historic as the buildings. Not every city in the world replaces its old streets with new ones. In fact, hardly any of them do. I'm thinking the best thing for most streets within central Dallas is to do whatever it takes to make the shopkeepers happy.
Think about how a lot of estates don't have modern driveways into them but narrow dirt or gravel ones? Do whatever you can to maintain the already iconic areas of town so you can save the money to spend it on the more depressed areas.
@mrbusyb ... Let's progress, not regress. So, don't mention Houston. It's a waste of time. Houston's city leaders and populace are the lowest IQ of any city in the country, so let's keep looking forward.
I've always heard cost per pound shipped that train was cheaper than truck. Though I haven't checked for a LTL truck shipment vs. the same amount by rail. Possibly the broker and administrative fees are high enough to reverse that for less than a rail car load?
Yes Dallas only cares about the dollars.
I've always heard cost per pound shipped that train was cheaper. Though if you're talking less than one rail car worth of goods perhaps the broker and administrative fees are higher on trains to reverse that. I've never investigated the difference between one LTL by truck or the same amount by train.
Yes Dallas pretty much only cares about money. But hopefully that will change some.
@MikeO Nobody has a problem with trucks serving Dallas. The ones passing through can circle around.
@MikeO If you tear down I-345, the check point won't be necessary. The truckers bypassing Dallas will choose on their own to loop around the city.
Oh, so the trucks that bring your stuff are fine, but to hell with the rest of the world.
Dallas would be off limits to trucks -- that's not emotional hyberbole. People just can't see how the world works -- they just want to whine like a child when things aren't perfect for them. It don't revolve around you.
I guess that there would be a police check point set up at I45 and I20 and all trucks would have to stop and verify where their load is going? Right?
Your post makes very little sense. Its nothing more than emotional hyperbole.
Where did I say I was against trucking? Trucking is extremely important to US economy.
What I am against is truckers using the center of Dallas to transports goods between two separate places,
Dallas traffic is already bad enough to begin with. I do not 18 wheelers and their massive pollution clogging up the city center.
A trucker going from Houston to Tulsa can make it in nearly the same amount of time taking 635 to 75 than he does going straight up I-45 to 75.
Derrick, like I would tell the anti-frack brigade, if you don't like oil wells, STOP DRIVING YOUR CARS -- otherwise you are just BS hipocrites!
So Derrick, if you are so against trucking, stop buying anything that has been trucked, which would be just about everything! So enjoy your wonderful life off the grid eating and living "locally".
Of course that means no computer anymore, but you can mail your reply.
@Apocalypse @DerrickJonestrucks need to loop around on 20 and skip the city then that problem is solved. Ideally, they need to route 35 into loop 12 so trucks can also loop around downtown from 35. Trucks traveling to other states dont need to be clogging up the highways of downtown Dallas when they can loop around the city.
@DerrickJones @Apocalypse I think we are going to have to agree to disagree. Not to your point that anyone is saying Dallas exists for trucking companies, I'm not saying that. I am saying that comments like yours about alternate routes shows some misunderstanding of what the traffic in this town is like outside the city center. Its like saying we should shut down parts of 75 because people can just take the train if they want to get north. Won't work. Anyway...good discussion though.
I would argue that a lot of the proper infrastructure is already in place.
Such as 635, Loop 12, The Bush tollway. In many cases taking these roads is more efficient than the highway because less cars on those roads.
According to google maps A trucker or commuter taking 635 from Hutchins to Allen would have a whole 5 minutes added to his route if he took 635 instead of 75.
Dallas doesn't exist to be at the whims of trucking companies.
@DerrickJones because that time add cost to the route a deathnail in trucking, and 635 would not be equipped to handle the increased traffic flow.
I am not saying your points aren't valid, I am just saying that Dallas was built so poorly, and is run so inefficiently, that it almost can't be undone unless the proper infrastructure is not in place prior to those moves.
People say they want a more vibrant city, great, but taking measures that cost Business money to make it happen does not work in TX due to the "Hands-Off Business" mentality. I don't agree with it, but its how it works, and I have 20 years experience with municipal government here and it sucks. Best of luck getting that Highway change done, I just think its a hard sell in a city that has a history of giving up these things in the name of the almighty dollar.
Thats all great. What does any of that have to do with the City of Dallas?
If an 18 wheeler coming from Houston wants to get to Oklahoma why couldn't he take 635 to get to 75?
That is already more efficient then cutting through the center of the city.
Im not interested in my city being a regional transit hub for 18 wheelers to ship things from the Port of Houston to the rest of the United States.