Angela Hunt Insists Widening Chávez Will Create "A Cohesive Entry Into Downtown"

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Speaking of Angela Hunt ...

The maybe-mayoral candidate who presently reps that stretch of downtown due to be widened says that, yes, she's all for it. She was back in January 2009, you may recall, when she asked for a time-out so she could confer with DowntownDallas president and CEO John Crawford and architect Larry Good about how to turn the "sea of concrete" into "a pedestrian-friendly, beautiful entry into downtown," even if means the demolition of some of downtown's most historic structures.

"I am very much a preservationist and hate the idea we'd lose some of our oldest buildings," she tells Unfair Park, following up on our chat with Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan from earlier today. "At the same time, I've worked hard to make sure this thoroughfare is not just a sea of concrete, but that it creates an attractive boulevard and entry into downtown. I understand what Jill means when she says it's a couplet into downtown. Right now it's disorganized. It's not a cohesive entry into downtown, so based on what our traffic engineers have planned over the last several years, this is the best opportunity and it opens up greenspace."

Since we began writing about this (again) yesterday, I've spoken with a few architects and urban planners and preservationists who loathe this expansion. Most, having not heard a word about it for the last two years, figured it had died because of its being an awful idea -- one that has the real possibility of creating a six-lane gulf of traffic between Deep Ellum and Fair Park and downtown. If nothing else, says one architect, is now really the best time to spend $20 million in bond funds on a transportation project -- especially because there will be no bike lane? (Turns out, bike lanes are not part of this plan after all.)

Still, Hunt is adamant: This is a good, necessary idea.


"Larry Good was kind enough to volunteer his time when I asked if he'd take a look at this project," she says. "As you'll remember, two years ago when this came up it was a sea of concrerte and many, many lanes and no discernable median and wasn't the type of transportation project we'd been talking about, which is one that creates greenspace and provides an attractive boulevard and provides an entry into downtown. This does that. I also worked with John Crawford to make this a better project and came up with what I think is a better project."

I asked if there were renderings, so perhaps we'd have a better idea of the kind of landscaping and greenscaping we're talking about. She said none were available, save for a bird's-eye view of the project. You will find over on the Dallas Fort Worth Urban Forum someone's fingers-crossed CGI rendering of what it might look like, complete with a small pocket park in the middle of traffic, but it dates back to April '09.

Hunt says that ultimately, this is little more than an extension of César Chávez Boulevard as it looks now near the Dallas Farmers Market. And, yes, she acknowledges: "Ideally, this would be a street with bike lanes and gracious sidewalks and we wouldn't get rid of historic buildings. But I just don't know how realistic that is given the traffic patterns. And just because there are no bike lanes there now doesn't mean they won't be there in the future."

I swear -- this is our last item on the subject, far as I can tell. Except for the one coming tomorrow about a potential to save the historic buildings.

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23 comments
Dave.from.Acquisitions
Dave.from.Acquisitions

I travel this route, every single day.

It's my backup route out of Oak Cliff to N. Dallas, as, the mix-master is constantly backed up, and to try to get to Woodall Rodgers from Sylvan is a joke now, as, the fake suspension bridge has caused significant traffic rerouting.

There is no reason to widen Cesar Chavez. Between 7:00am and 9:00am, there is a bottleneck that occurs at Elm and Cesar Chavez, and that's because of folks trying to make a left at Pacific, to dog-leg to Crockett St (entrance to Pearl).

Widening Cesar Chavez won't help this.

Angela, we all sincerely appreciate you, but this street endeavor is not necessary.

How about fixing Sylvan Ave., between Commerce/Ft. Worth Ave, and Singleton Blvd. This is a heavily traveled route that needs serious attention (see: POTHOLES EVERYWHERE).

Thomas
Thomas

Angela Hunts run for mayor and her judgments on urban planning. Lower Greenville PD, and now this, make me think she is not mayor material. I really thought the best answer for downtown was to slow traffic downtown, not build freeways.

Thomas
Thomas

Yes it is hysterical to rename a street That used to Be called Central Expressway , Cesar Chavez Blvd. , then to tear down historical buildings to connect it to North Central Expressway .I am sure the large percentage of Hispanic Urban Pioneers that live around Cesar Chavez would like some input. Are they going to cut a hole in the Corten Steel for cars to pass through going south???

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Shouldn't downtown be somewhat appealing before you worry about entry into it?

elbueno
elbueno

I urge everyone to take to Twitter and tell @AngelaHunt that Downtown Dallas ain't Plano #don'twidenchavez

Mike
Mike

"They've" gotten to her. Who owns the land around there and who has offered to support her for Mayor?

ModernDrift
ModernDrift

This is beyond lunacy and flies in the face of everything the city is "trying" to do with urban areas and complete streets. Not only are they creating a concrete divide, but we are losing the exact type of buildings we are trying to encourage developers to create (buildings that address the street in scale and feel), and even though they aren't "historic", the buildings are another lost nod to our past.

elbueno
elbueno

The Better Block folks might be a better reference in this day and age. Just sayin.

DallasMan
DallasMan

Yeah, not a fan. Seems like a waste of money at a time like this. I'll support this when the City can point to multiple contracts in stone by developers to build on these lots once this widening and "beautification" are completed. Until then, leave well enough alone, and stop tearing down our City's history!

Professor Dimwit
Professor Dimwit

unneeded street widening funding + unneeded street car funding = Dart Green Line Love Field access funding.

Guest
Guest

Not entirely sure how doubling the size of a road and tearing down existing buildings is anything but adding to the sea of concrete.

It's a shit plan, and I'm sad to know that pod people finally got Angela Hunt.

Ericabel
Ericabel

If Angela Hunt farts, the Dallas Observer will be there to tell us about it.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

????? In order to save downtown we must destroy downtown.????????

She was back in January 2009, you may recall, when she asked for a time-out so she could confer with DowntownDallas president and CEO John Crawford and architect Larry Good about how to turn the "sea of concrete" into "a pedestrian-friendly, beautiful entry into downtown," even if means the demolition of some of downtown's most historic structures.

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

"And just because there are no bike lanes there now doesn't mean they won't be there in the future."

I can't believe this came out of Angela Hunt's mouth. She of all people should know how often we update our Bike Plan.

Clay
Clay

I used to like her but she seems to have become a complete idiot over the past year

sizzler
sizzler

none of this makes any sense from an urban design standpoint. i say she should scrap the greenville ave plan, combine it with this one, and should widen central to greenville as far north as we can. that's where the people dallas wants are!

Guest
Guest

Of course it's not Plano. Downtown Plano is essentially a one-way, single-lane affair. Even though it would make sense in terms of traffic patterns to widen 15th Street through Plano's historic downtown, even suburban city council people know that destroying what historic buildings they do have and making downtown into a larger sea of concrete would be counter productive to the city.

The Plano City Council would know better than to do what Dallas does all the time.

And that's very, very sad.

Ericable
Ericable

The pod people didn't get Hunt, it's called seeing the reality of what it takes to make a serious run at being elected mayor (sorry Mr. Crain). It's easy to be "green," "correct," and an "outsider who is the true voice of the progressive people." Remember, Laura Miller was once Angela Hunt (but even more so, as she was a "renegade" truth-seeking, truth-telling journalist for this very publication). And we all know how that worked out. But, fret not, I'm sure Wilonsky will evince the genius of her plan in the morning. Or at least post up another glamor shot to look at.

Ericable
Ericable

On a more serious note: You people didn't really think that the renaming of something, anything, as Caesar Chavez was going to be where it ended did you?

Hunt is most likely going to run for mayor. What constituency (and its leaders) do you think she might deem beneficial to her aspirations?

Anon
Anon

There is already an entry into downtown. It's called Ross Avenue. Can't we just beautify that?

Guest
Guest

I honestly doubt this particular issue would make enough of a difference in terms of getting her elected either way.

Bob
Bob

AN entry? Get a map--dozens of streets enter into downtown. Do you want to spend the money to "beautify" each and every one of them? If not, how will you choose which ones to "beautify"? Or would you rather all of them look as crappy as S. Central Expressway or Good-Latimer Expressway entering downtown from the south?

NotTheSuburbs
NotTheSuburbs

Made a difference to me. She was my choice for mayor until I read this article. Now I need to find someone else to support.

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