Scenes From a Better Ross Avenue

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Tomorrow, we'll have much more from the Build a Better Boulevard event presently slowing traffic along a stretch of Ross near and into downtown; maybe I'll even let Leslie run the photo she took of me submerged into the dumpster swimming pool parked in Fellowship Church's lot at Ross and Central ... after Andrew Howard pushed me in, that is, high-tops and all. Not that I was complaining: That was a surprisingly long bike ride, past City Hall and through Deep Ellum, just to go from Main Street Garden to DISD HQ. But the 7-year-old held his own (very proud), and many thanks to the safety-card-handing-out Dallas Fire-Rescue worker -- Scott, didn't catch the last name -- and Mr. Angela Hunt, Paul Sims, who hung back and encouraged the lad to keep a-pedalin'.

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Ran into myriad city officials strolling amongst the food trucks and Wanda Dye-led UTA-built food court (complete with puzzle-piece seating made from old fences) and We Are 1976 pop-up DART stop (seen above) in the empty field between Liberty and Pavilion. Linda Koop and Ann Margolin were out for a stroll following the 11:30 press conference at Dallas Black Dance HQ. Theresa O'Donnell, director of Sustainable Development and Construction, and her second-in-command, Peer Chacko, were hanging out in the Fellowship Church parking lot, across the street from the pop-up dog park. Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez refused our invitation to jump in the dumpster pool.

Further down, near the Arts District, was that open-air market parked right in the middle of Ross; there was even a piano perched in the pop-up plaza. As we stood in the middle of the street, a woman -- young, around mid-20s -- drove by, slowly, and rolled down her window. She asked, "What is this?" We tried to explain. She said, "Hunh," and kept on trucking.

Bands and solo acts are also playing up and down the avenue till 'round 4ish; we snacked on a banh mi and gulped down a mint lemonade while Don Cento fought the wind sweeping through the UTA architecture students' food court, causing the covering -- vinyl repurposed from old billboards -- to ripple like surf-rider waves. In all, very ... can I even say this? ... Congress Avenue. A start, at least, as you'll see from the few more photos that follow. Now, who's got the aloe vera?

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25 comments
jimrain
jimrain

It demonstrated that you can inject some life into the street without a huge investment. If the city really is interested in following up, they should proceed with regular weekend markets and event venues in consistent locations that reclaim some of the street from cars. They need to start with installations that won't disrupt commutes, etc., but that show that the city is a better place if it's not given over wholly to the automobile. If those weekend events can convince A LOT of people of the need to balance cars with other uses, that can lay the groundwork for more permanent revisions to the city's infrastructure. [copied from here: http://bit.ly/ktd4LH]

Jason Roberts
Jason Roberts

Thank you all for taking part in the Ross Project. This effort was created to show how we could mix pedestrian, bicycle, and auto traffic into an area that is currently dedicated to cars only. Though Cheryl mentioned the offerings were "boring", this was really an exercise to show we could safely and realistally implement something that is seen in other cities around the world. These demonstrations are helping us prove that permanent changes can be made to infrastructure in the city that take into account all users. Here's a quick video noting the mixed traffic flow: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... It may seem like a small thing once we've implemented, just know that surmounting that hurdle of assumptions was huge for this endeavor. People at all levels assumed that you could not put a market in the center of a Dallas street...yesterday proved that wrong.

Andy
Andy

So..why is there a piano in the street again?

matt
matt

had a great time walking around.  it was a good start, and man, are the people of dallas big weenies.  its summer.  its going to be hot.  get your head straight and suck it up

Cheryl
Cheryl

Around noon, I rode bike 4 blocks to the event.  The area near Pavillion/Ross was disappointing to say the least.  So I rode on down Ross all the way past the pop-up dog park.  Then turned back and went home down Ross. The heat was horrid and I was not impressed by the food truck offerings.   My impression was there wasn't anything fun to do or look at.

Ien Black
Ien Black

I asked how much parking was in an adjacent lot. and the girl said "it's free". I gasped. :)It was pretty cool, but would have been nice to have more shade, the arts district needs some major tree planting programs.

BrownGirl
BrownGirl

I thought it was lots of fun to see so many people actually (gasp) walking around outside; but my favorite part was the food trucks. That lot has been vacant for years, too bad we can't get trucks permission to park there more often.

OED_Denizen
OED_Denizen

God it was hot walking between the Arts District east. The lack of shade in temperatures that felt like the middle of an oven was unbelievable. When my wife and I walked across the alley on the east of the Arts District apartments an ass hole in a red sports car tried to run over us to get out of the "slow" traffic. Unfortunately for this person (going so fast that I couldn't tell whether it was a man or woman) the alley was blocked by bicycles!!!!!

G_David
G_David

It was okay, in my opinion.  Seemed kind of overly spread out, especially since we didn't get there until around 2 p.m., when it was approximately 1,200 degrees.  That walk felt at least as long as your bike ride. Would love to see streets built like that from the ground up - a lot easier than trying to convert them obviously.

Cuecat
Cuecat

Terrific event! Thanks to all the volunteers who organized and set up all the exhibits, Amazing what can be accomplished when you get all the bureaucrats and consultants out of the way and just let people do their thing.

Ellum08
Ellum08

Hey Jason, keep doing what you are doing and don't pay much attention to the 'Everything In Dallas Sucks But We Don't Want To Do Anything To Make it Better' folks that usually post on this blog.

More shade would have been groovy, but it was interesting to see Ross from a sidewalk and middle of the street perspective.

Montemalone
Montemalone

singsing a songsing out loudsing out strongsing of good thingsnot badsing of happynot sad

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

agreed, and I hope they talk to Steve Houser or other arborists about what trees to plant. We need drought tolerant trees, planted in areas that permit them to grow. Not the east Texas sweet gums and Magnolias. Cedar Elms would be good. Burr Oaks. Grilled last night about 6, in my back yard, shaded by big Pecans. Quite comfortable.

dallasmay
dallasmay

It's not that hard to redesign a street to be a "complete street". It just needs to be on the city's regular street maintenance schedule. Slowly but surely, over the course of the next 40-60 years, we can convert every street in the plan. It doesn't have to be done all at once. 

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Indeed -- we left shortly after 2, by which point I was a little ... hot, let's say. Without a bike, I can imagine it felt a little more spread-out than necessary.

dallasmay
dallasmay

I'm pretty sure the bureaucrats made the organizers get the necessary permits for this event like everyone else. And this comes from a long line of a bunch of different consultants that have made proposals to the city, including the new Dallas Bicycling programs. I'm not sure what you mean by getting them out of the way.

Howard
Howard

"...over the course of the next 40-60 years..."

That's what I find frustrating about this city a lot... most of us will be long dead or too old by that fabled time when Dallas becomes a utopia for the average Dallasite. But if you're a millionaire, you can have a pretty but useless bridge, shopping development, hotel convention center, or whatever grandiose eyesore built within 2 years.

Guest
Guest

Sure.  But first you have to run all the drivers out of town.  Or is that built into the plan?

Coleman
Coleman

How dare you throw reality into someone's libertarian wet dream!

Ellum08
Ellum08

Considering that the City of Dallas was one of the organizers and asked the Better Block folks to help coordinate, I don't think approving permits was an issue.

Remember
Remember

"Ross isn't a residential street"

It was a residential street. It was only turned into a thoroughfare over the past two decades. Remember that the West End Marketplace is also on Ross.

Guest
Guest

Ross isn't a residential street.  Ross is a commercial street that some people decided to go ahead and build and buy residences on.  Then those people seem surprised to see cars on the street, like it was some kind of park when they moved in. 

dallasmay
dallasmay

Well, heaven forbid we ever again live in a city where I don't have to worry about you running over my kids because you think you are a good enough driver to drive 45 mph on my residential street. 

Ellum08
Ellum08

Wow, calm down.

What part of 'considering that the City of Dallas was one of the organizers and asked the Better Block folks to help coordinate, I don't think approving permits was an issue.' equals into me thinking or saying that the bureaucrats were the issue?

Perhaps I responded to the wrong comment, but don't assume you know anything about me, because you don't.  

dallasmay
dallasmay

The City has to get the same permits. They can't just decide on a whim to close down a street. Especially not one as busy as Ross. But regardless, isn't that still the bureaucrats organizing it? 

You're not making any sense. You have been completely brain washed to think that "bureaucracrats" are always bad, and anything that is good must have been done without their knowledge. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

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