Downtown Dallas' Tunnels: Are They Really All That Terrible?

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Nowadays, Dallas' network of tunnels are pretty widely reviled as an urban planning nightmare that have sucked the life off downtown's streets. They are a "sordid story," Downtown Dallas Inc. CEO John Crawford told the City Council this morning. "Frankly, we're trying to do away with them as quickly as possible."

Philip Kingston has an alternative suggestion: Do nothing.

"It's a waste of time to even talk about, frankly," he said following his colleagues' protracted discussion on the topic this morning that ended with an agreement to have additional protracted discussions in the future.

See also: Into Downtown's Tunnels, A Horror Story

This is weird. We totally had Kingston, whose district includes downtown, pegged as a tunnel hater. He's generally aligned himself with the progressive urban zeitgeist promotes cycling and walkability and wants to tear down I-345; Councilman Scott Griggs, his ideological counterpart on urban issues, seemed willing to dynamite the tunnels himself at this morning's meeting. But not Kingston.

"They're vastly over-blamed for harming downtown," Kingston says. "I don't think they're a great idea. Certainly if we had it to do over again, we wouldn't have done them," but "they're not currently harming street life. They're pretty much dead as it is."

He was bemused, and a little miffed at not being given a heads-up beforehand, at his colleague's debate his morning, which focused on whether to close public access at one entrance to one small segment of tunnel that is basically unused. Close all the entrances or keep them open, it's a non-issue because businesses and pedestrian traffic have already shifted to the downtown streets, Kingston says.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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