You Wanna Tear Down Central Expressway?

us75_loop12_looking_n_undated.jpg
Texas Freeway
On N. Central Expressway in the 1950s, looking north toward the Loop 12 overpass
Speaking of transportation and the suburbs ...

Been meaning to mention this for weeks, but Patrick Kennedy's post on the subject reminds: There's a Facebook page called Save Downtown Dallas: Tear Down Central Expressway -- a subject that's addressed from a distance in the just-adopted-by-city-council Downtown Dallas 360, actually. As in: "The Central Expressway is one example of how the freeway loop divides the CBD from adjacent districts and neighborhoods. In Deep Ellum, however, local artwork helps 'bridge' the divide. ... [But] rectifying the damage the freeways have caused to Downtown and adjacent areas is a long-term and expensive proposition." In other words: Dream and discuss all you want, it ain't happening in your lifetime. I know, I know -- and you were promised jet packs.

But the tear-down U.S. 75 discussion, along with the do away with Interstate 30 talk, does make for some interesting reading. Kennedy's been on about tearing down the freeways that "choke" downtown for year, but it's not so far-fetched an idea: National Public Radio ran a piece only a few weeks ago about how some cities, Cleveland and Seattle and New Orleans among them, are either considering or actually choosing to remove aging freeways rather than repair them. Notes All Things Considered's Dan Bobkoff, "Taking down freeways has gone mainstream," mostly due to money ... which is to say, lack of. Which doesn't stop Dallas.

I spent way too long this morning clicking through links from the Facebook page -- beginning with the most recent, posted last night, about the slice of N. Central through downtown ("between the northern terminus of Interstate 45 and the Woodall Rogers Freeway in downtown Dallas") actually known as Interstate 345. Use it in a sentence. Impress your friends.

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77 comments
Gabe
Gabe

There will come a time when the overpass will be beyond its operational lifespan. Then Dallas (and other stakeholders) will have a choice:

Spend $100-150m to make downtown a better place to live.

OR Spend $300-700m to make downtown a faster place to drive past. For a few years, until traffic clogs that up too.

Rooster
Rooster

The odds of getting money to tear down perfectly good freeways stand someplace between slim and none.

observist
observist

Removing Central Expressway will make Dallas a world class city. If you don't support it, you don't want Dallas to be world class.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

As soon as I get the flux capacitor FIXED I will travel to the past and warn them about the future they are creating .

Admonkey
Admonkey

I lived in south Dallas county for nearly two decades, and Central is a vital route into the city. Choking it down won't do the vast majority of county residents any good.

Let's fill up downtown with residents and mixed use development, bringing it back to a thriving daytime/nighttime environment first, and go from there. We're still waiting on that.

Brian
Brian

The problem is that almost everyone working in downtown lives in Plano and far north Dallas. Reducing highway access to downtown will simply move all the office leases to Addison and Las Colinas. The examples given in places like Seattle, Cleveland, and Buffalo were short highway spurs that were suppose to be connected to something but never were. Think "deadman's curve in south Dallas. The stretch of US 75 from Woodall Rodgers to 30 is a core link in the system. Shutting it down will back up traffic region wide. I think Deep Ellum can prosper with out taking down the rest of Dallas.

LakeWWWooder
LakeWWWooder

I think 'daylighting' the and beautifying covered Mill Creek (runs underneath Haskell at Ross down to Exall Park, Hall Street/Baylor and into Deep Elllum) would yield better results for less money. The original Kessler Plan 100 years ago called for both Mill Creek and Turtle Creek to get the same treatment but only Turtle Creek was done...

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Yep. Highways blocking access is the only problem with downtown. Nothing else far more practical would work....

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

There will never be another Boston Big Dig project in our lifetimes, so that's out of the question. If anything, we can see how well the Woodall Rodgers Park performs by visually eliminating a segment of freeway and see if we can replicate that with other parts of the freeway loop. I can definitely see other deck parks in Dallas' future.

Something I find interesting is that Seattle's Freeway Park is (to my knowledge) the first deck park over a freeway but it was HORRIBLY designed. It had so many places for rapists to hide that it became a huge problem in the early 2000s. The lesson here is that we shouldn't rush to do things just because they seem cool or good policy.

wascallywabbit
wascallywabbit

All we need to do is get rid of all highways, roads, bridges(except the signature ones), anything that could be used to travel on and then get rid of all the tunnels, and then build a fence around Dallas, put a lock on it, Caraway will have the only key to it(possibly Michael Vick, too); and then I believe Downtown Dallas will be totally AWESOME and nobody will ever want to leave(because they won't be able to) and a beautiful rainbow will shoot across the sky with lollipops raining down from the Heavens.

Rob
Rob

This story about the impact a similar road project had in Seoul, Korea is really interesting and is very similar to the Central Expressway idea:

http://daily.sightline.org/dai...

zobzerto
zobzerto

Also, San Francisco tore down the Embarcadero freeway instead of repairing it after the earthquake in 1989. A ground-level boulevard was built in its place. If you've been there you know what a wonderful decision that was.

WalkableDFW
WalkableDFW

The notion that it is too expensive is sort of like the idea that they are too big to fail. So we should just keep failing? It is defeatist.

It is far more expensive to maintain the highways than to get rid of them (which actually suppresses an asset for the state/city -- both broke -- valuable real estate close to the engine of downtown). Furthermore, building a highway at first means getting some return in economic development by way of unlocking new land further out. But once all that land is gobbled up and the city has expanded outward as far as it possibly can (as identified by half-built subdivisions -- you've seen them flying in), then the proposition of freeways is all expense and little return.

If you actually want to think about the math, how much do we spend replacing/expanding sections of freeways? hundreds of millions? In the case of Project Pegasus, we're talking about $2billion. On hold because we don't have the money, thankfully. It is intended to add capacity, speed traffic, yadda yadda. Every capacity expansion leads to induced demand. Roads get traffic. Big ones also expel any incentive to live or be anywhere near them. The demolition part of that budget can run about 20% of the total cost.

Instead of getting the exact same result, new road, more traffic, we get actual neighborhoods. We sell off the hundreds of acres available to a range of private developers. We set up a TIF to build the network of neighborhood-scaled streets and parks for the new neighborhoods as I promise you land value will go up (and be taxable since it is now improved, private land). And guess what happens, people who were formerly swindled by the "drive til you qualify nonsense" abandon those half-built neighborhoods in Oklahoma with zero amenities and a mandatory hour-long commute to participate in the local economy powered by Dallas and return home, back to Dallas. A family can shed one of their cars and the $7-10K yearly cost that goes with it. They can now walk, bike, ride DART, or an expanded streetcar system. Transportation mode balances out (and this also means less cars on every other road to get in your way if you happen to be driving). Sounds like win-wins all-around to me.

For a long time, I was under the assumption that freeways actually were quite permanent because of the nature of their construction. It turns out that between the very nature of their construction, the intense pressure put on them by use (which is created by the road in the first place), and the need for these roads to be in primo condition at all times lest they erode, they are actually quite impermanent. Hence, the failing grade given to the nation's freeway/bridge/infrastructure system.

It should be stated (once again) that different types of freeways must be distinguished. There are intra-city freeways and inter-city freeways. Inter-city freeways are absolutely necessary in interconnecting regional economies, i.e. Houston to DFW. Eisenhower's interstate system was a great achievement for the country and propelled us as a nation forward. However, as history suggests, the predominant form of transportation inevitably gets corrupted. It takes Keynesianism to its destructive logical end. Meaning, people are making money off of the construction of over-sized roads, so you aren't stopping this gravy train, that (at least in the near-term) is providing some notion of progress.

The highways that expedited the evacuation of downtowns and downtown adjacent areas once served a purpose. Cities of the industrial age were overcrowded, dirty, polluted, poverty- and disease-stricken. Today, what industry is left in this country is either clean or on its way out from urban cores as land is just too expensive (kind of like land that is too valuable for freeways). Leaving downtowns for residential populations and commercial businesses that seek the advantages of clustering.

But to for businesses to cluster effectively and citizens that desire real live community you also need local inter-connectivity. The inner-loop (and virtually all of the freeways in Dallas proper) interrupt local connectivity, the foundation of all great neighborhoods/cities, which instead exist within bubbles frayed at the edges, almost in spite of all the factors weighing against them. If they were interconnected, they could strengthen each other instead. Have you ever noticed that it is near impossible to get from downtown to its most adjacent neighborhoods, but a piece of cake to get out of Dallas altogether? Like uptown, these areas possess the greatest potential for new qualitative growth, for new development, new tax base.

DART could use the increased ridership brought about by a less convenient driving infrastructure, the real estate industry could use a more predictable pattern that is less scattered and chaotic as brought about by the centrifugal force of freeways, the city could use the tax base from a more desirable urban core and more available land for more affordable, in-town housing. Citizens could use a system less shackled to car ownership and the expenses therein, reinstating that necessary pillar of any free market system, real, live, actual choice.

Certainly there are legal hoops. But if you can't get a broke city and a broke state to see the light then I guess we're all just screwed and the defeatist tone of Downtown 360 is appropriate.

But in the end, I'm not sure we'll have to make the choice and economic factors (both macro- and micro-) will make it for us and there won't be freeways within loop 12 by 2050.

You are embarrassing
You are embarrassing

Cleveland, Seattle, and New Orleans are even shittier shitholes than Dallas is, you naive white libtard fantasists.

Rob
Rob

@Brian - but even with our existing highways more businesses have decided to move into the suburbs and out of downtown. Hence the city of Dallas has a larger residential tax base than corporate tax base.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Planning in twos and threes but only building one is the Dallas Way: three Calatrava bridges, three Bullington Truck Terminals, two Cityplace towers, etc. etc. etc.

Montemalone
Montemalone

I like those blow-pops with gum in the middle, and those other ones with the caramel in the middle.

md
md

The Embarcadero freeway was a double-deck freeway with a road beneath it.

It stretched all of 1.2 miles -- because it was not connected to anything else as originally planned.

The underlying road was enough to meet the traffic demand.

Not the same as removing Central Expressway.

Heck, if we want more land to develop, let's reclaim DFW airport.

It's huge. That will surely help the economy, right?

observist
observist

Yes, if we remove Central Expressway, the north end of Dallas will be just like the San Francisco waterfront!

scottindallas
scottindallas

Sorry Patrick, you're nuttier than a fruitcake on this issue. I am a residential gardener, in Lake Highlands, Lakewood, Preston Hollow and a bit in UP/HP. I don't like driving on the freeways. I love and use Gaston, Columbia, Garland Rd, Skillman, Greenville, Abrams, Hillcrest, Inwood, Lemmon, Harry Hines, Royal, Forest, Walnut Hill, NW, Lovers, Knox/Wycliff/Douglas, Henderson, Ross, Canton and the other Central Expy. I drive all those cut-throughs and others regularly. You totally crazy. Even if Central were "taken out" you'd need the access roads or some semblance of it.

Where have abandoned rail road easements created a boon? You need to get away from that Hydroponic crap you're smoking and get back to something grown in dirt. Cause you're utterly delusional. All our arteries are currently strained to the max during rush hours. Expanding, really doubling their load would create gridlock.

Further, your proposal would add to global warming, gas usage as no car gets good mileage when stopped at a light. Again, I think I have some cred as as an advocate of expanding walking friendly development, street cars and many other issues where we'd agree. But, we need all of these options, you don't supplant infrastructure. It was wrong when we ripped up the streetcars, it would be equally foolhardy to rip up Central Expressway.

I'm all for revolutionary action that expands choice. We should always act with great trepidation before forcing such significant change on so many people.

md
md

"Too big to fail" is a bad thing.

"Too expensive" is also.

"Have you ever noticed that it is near impossible to get from downtown to its most adjacent neighborhoods, but a piece of cake to get out of Dallas altogether?"

If you had a car, and attempted to drive out of Dallas during rush hour on a regular basis, you would understand the stupidity of this statement. You should anyway as it is a simple matter to drive under the freeways on a surface street or to get on a freeway for a short distance and exit well before those leaving the city,

warden62
warden62

No, I had not noticed how difficult it was to get to or from downtown Dallas to or from its most adjacent neighborhoods. There are roads like Ross, Gaston, Hall, etc that do the trick for me.

Coleman
Coleman

uhh actually Seattle is pretty fucking nice. Gonna rant about white grandmas getting raped again, douchebag?

elbueno
elbueno

really? New Orleans? Cleveland? WHITE?!?

Enrique De La Fuente
Enrique De La Fuente

What exactly is "shitty" about Seattle? Granted, I never cared much for Mudhoney, but it is still a great city.

zobzerto
zobzerto

Jesus, I didn't say it was the same. Can you read?

zobzerto
zobzerto

Don't be an ass, I was just adding to the list of cities mentioned in the article that have successfully torn down freeways. In no way did I imply that Dallas will be just like the San Francisco waterfront.

md
md

"I promise you land value will go up...And guess what happens, people who were formerly swindled by the 'drive til you qualify nonsense' (will) abandon those half-built neighborhoods in Oklahoma..."

Land value goes up. Housing prices go up. And suddenly the people who moved further out because they couldn't afford to live close-in will come back?

Do you even think about what you write?

Phelps
Phelps

And when all the traffic from 75 and 30 are also on those roads? That trick is going to become mighty tedious.

You are embarrassing
You are embarrassing

I didn't claim they were white cities. I was referring to the Dallas Observer's "journalists" and most of its readers, especially those who think tearing down vital highways so they can have white libtard hipster bike parties is a good idea.

You are embarrasing
You are embarrasing

Seattle is full of heroin junkies, drunk bums paid to drink with welfare, crackheads, naive white libtards who coddle the rapidly-growing black gang population letting them literally get away with murder (the Tuba Man), "progressive" wimp ass-kissers who cry when the fact that blacks make up only 8% of Seattle but that half of all murders in Seattle are committed by blacks ... 14 of the 28 in 2008, 12 of the 21 in 2009, at least 8 of the 17 in 2010, maybe if we coddle and excuse them some more and rename the county for MLK and paint cheezy hagiographic murals of him in the courthouse while gangsters smoke crack right outside of it's glass doors and the police don't do shit about it because they are so chickenshit that some "It's Pat" bulldyke is going to shriek "racist" at them. And it is cold rain for 9 months straight.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I get so sick of the "three" in all designs bull crap. I get this in landscape design all the time. I use bookends often and thus rely on twos often enough, who ever heard of bookends with three?

Montemalone
Montemalone

We could just hurl a Holy Hand Grenade at the freeway.

md
md

You said they built a boulevard and I noted there was an existing street beneath the freeway. Most Texans don't think of a freeway being little more than a mile long and you did not mention that.

zobzerto
zobzerto

@scottindallas To be clear, the part of Central that the article refers to is the portion south of Woodall Rogers and north of where 45 ends (i.e. the eastern part of the downtown highway noose). You know what it looks like down there. Think about all of the potential value that land has. Right now that stretch of highway acts like a barrier. Land that close to the central business district should be in incredibly high demand, but that stretch is lined with unused space and parking lots.

scottindallas
scottindallas

You're terribly wrong about the land adjacent to Central Expressway. That highway is lined with commercial businesses who covet that sq. footage. Certainly, the stretch of freeway mentioned is all lined with commercial businesses. Those businesses also have a right to expect access to a roadway. You can't impede that without incurring some eminent domain issues, access to any new roadway would be required as well. This is a totally half baked idea.

zobzerto
zobzerto

@observist It really doesn't have anything to do with the "obstructed views," and it's not totally irrelevant. It has to do with unlocking the value of the land. The land adjacent to a freeway isn't desirable.

observist
observist

The point is that removing a double-deck freeway that obstructed views/access to San Francisco Bay is a very, very far cry from removing an elevated single-deck freeway that obstructs views/access to few more drab blocks of Dallas, Other than the tenuous commonality of removing a freeway, it's totally irrelevant.

Rangers100
Rangers100

Exactly. Companies seeking to leech off the city from the isolation of Collin County will face a much more difficult choice. No more easy trips in for the AAC events, Arts District, Deep Ellum night life, Fair Park, etc., etc. that Collin County doesn't have.

Cutting the sprawl lifeline that is 75 is a much scarier proposition to Collin Countiers and Far North Dallasites than it is to people actually investing their lives in the core of the city.

You are embarrassing
You are embarrassing

Shows how much you know bitch. I live in the Mexican/black neighborhood south of I30 near Grand. You probably live in the white libtard enclave of Lakewood or "north oak cliff".

Libtard
Libtard

"Vital" = "Get my ass back to my sad McKinney subdivision"

Granny
Granny

SOMEBODY needs a hug.

You are embarrassing
You are embarrassing

Too bad for your naive white libtard ass, G David, everything I wrote is true. Call me a racist all day and night, it does not change the facts at all. Dipshits like you shriek "racist" in an attempt to make facts they don't like go away.

G_David
G_David

Wow, somebody found out how to use "copy and paste". Your dumbass racist rant is the same one you post every time somebody mentions Seatlle. Yes, you truly are embarrassing. To yourself.

You are embarrassing
You are embarrassing

To zobzerto - I don't give a shit what you think about my style, everything I wrote is still true.

zobzerto
zobzerto

Yeah, you're right. You're writing like someone who should be taken seriously. My mistake.

zobzerto
zobzerto

You're doing a bit, right?

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