Transportation Planners Hesitant to Tear Down I-345, Because Poor People

Categories: Transportation

I345AerialGoogle.jpg
The Texas Department of Transportation and its transportation-planning surrogates have unsheathed their latest weapon against the proposal to tear down I-345, and that weapon is poor people.

The argument was first voiced by Dallas Morning News editorial writer Rodger Jones, who wondered a few days ago why the urban types so eager to rid the city of the two-mile stretch of freeway separating downtown and Deep Ellum weren't equally concerned about S.M. Wright, which bisects a poor, black neighborhood in southern Dallas. As Zac Crain pointed out on Frontburner, Jones' argument is based on some faulty assumptions and just so happened to mirror TxDOT's talking points.

Yesterday, North Central Texas Council of Governments transportation director Michael Morris played the poor-people card once again, telling the DMN that the freeway is used heavily by the residents of South and East Dallas, many of whom are poor minorities. He referenced a meeting he attended recently with tear-down proponents.

See also: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings: Fix I-345 First, Talk About Teardown Later

"They were all white, they were very wealthy and I don't think any of them live in the neighborhood," he said.

There's a grain of truth here. Those most closely associated with the teardown push so far have been white downtownophiles, and any final decision must necessarily include input from all stakeholders. It's just a bit rich to see transportation planners suddenly discovering a passion for social justice.

In an email this morning Patrick Kennedy, co-founder of A New Dallas and leading tear-down proponent, calls Morris' argument "astoundingly cynical, patronizing, intentionally divisive, and ignorant of the history of I-30 and IH345 that ripped apart poor communities in the name of 'progress,' coming from people who are a part of creating the infrastructure-coerced car-dependence that is especially crushing on the poor."

The rest of his rebuttal is worth a read:

They've applied their one size fits all transportation model to the core city which, in order to function properly, needs to be high density and walkable. We've built a city where you have to own a car just to participate in the local economy. For some that means using half a pay check just to make a pay check, while spending a few hours a day commuting.

Their concern is how would people get to jobs in far North Dallas, failing to see the underlying problem of job spillage away from Dallas that is disconnecting people from jobs. We're trying to re-orient Dallas and the downtown vicinity as a center for investment, opportunity, and job growth. Cities throughout history have survived and thrived because they've been profit oriented. If we do it right, we can design our city in a way that all can benefit and take part in the revitalization of the urban core that's been forgotten. The right-of-way under the fossil that is 345 could give the city leverage for creating affordable housing where it needs to be, near jobs and transit.

I saw this coming a few weeks ago when First United Methodist Church in downtown asked me to come speak about 345. Given the attention 345 has been getting, it seemed a good opportunity to use 345 as a vessel for broader discussion about what is a city really for, which to me is about empowerment, opportunity, and improving quality of life. So I asked Reverend Gerald Britt and Larry James of City Square and Mark Lea of BC workshop (with Mark Lamster moderating) to join me in discussing how do we bring investment to disadvantaged areas, which just so happen to be the same ones isolated from the city by the highways.

In that "one meeting" where Michael Morris references, the only meeting mind you that he attended, the Mayor specifically stated that too often regional and state transportation has been at the detriment to the city of Dallas. He's right. We're essentially subsidizing people and jobs to flee the city. I am certainly not rich and haven't made a dime off this work in 5 years, which is how long it took me to get the ear of the power structure. Moving forward, we plan to continue this discussion, hopefully free of these selfish and divisive tactics by working with groups like City Square and their young professional organization City Squared to help with outreach.

Ultimately, this is about making Dallas livable again. Bringing the middle class back to the city to a vibrant urban core, which Dallas was before the highways, helps bring jobs, opportunity, and better schools back to Dallas. If half the car-owning households of Dallas county had the option to give up one car, that's $3.87 billion that would stay in the local economy. Individually people could do whatever they want with the savings, start a business, put it towards better housing, or save it. What we're trying to do is create a city that empowers, that instills choice, in mode of transportation and money. The best and smartest cities provide the greatest amount of choice. Their solution seems to be, build a highway for billions of dollars and say, "best of luck." Aren't there better ways to spend our public dollars? Like say, invest in our people and creating new opportunity for collective growth.

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127 comments
SamHouston
SamHouston

Why does it need to be torn down?  Just to suit the whims of a few developers whilst they make bank on the idea?   Does not seem fiscally responsible.  Then you have to add that additional traffic that has to re-route elsewhere impacting other neighborhoods.  How about you just make it green?  Green as in actual green like trees and plants, not bogus carbon credit tax and ignorant legislation.  Just look at the highway system inside of Singapore proper.  It is full of lush vegetation.  It is almost like driving in a forest.  That idea would benefit all.  The idea that an elevated freeway separates neighborhoods is not only ridiculous, it is absurd.

rocks123
rocks123

a broken clock is right twice a day..and you can keep your gentrification efforts to achieve a hipster utopia to lower greenville and bishop arts..leave deep ellum alone.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

If it's possible to turn an unused bridge, or abandoned railway into a park or something useable by the public, why can't the same be done with the area in question?

I would think the shade provided by the roadway would be a plus. And if fossil-fuel pollutants are of concern, why would it be any different than Kyle Warren bridge/park?

sentelo
sentelo

It is time to innovate. Our broken infrastructure needs to be rebuilt. Great technologies are making our lives better. http://ow.ly/vsDwY

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Dropping the Freeway will destroy Deep Ellum.  It will allow the angry hordes downtown to descend upon us.  

That freeway was the only thing that saved Deep Ellum from the Victory {Park developers, the AA stadium people and the Public Hotel cheerleaders.

Deep Ellum missed the last two boom-bust cycles but lose the freeway, and Deep Ellum will lose its soul.  And today, Victory Park is owned by a bunch of damn Germans.

The current denizens will be priced out of the best small town in Dallas.

MikeO
MikeO

"Ultimately, this is about making Dallas livable again. Bringing the middle class back to the city to a vibrant urban core, which Dallas was before the highways, helps bring jobs, opportunity, and better schools back to Dallas. If half the car-owning households of Dallas county had the option to give up one car, that's $3.87 billion that would stay in the local economy."   

This guy is saying that HALF of Dallasites are going to sell their cars and walk or bike if they tear down 1/2 mile of a freeway (one that can easily be traversed underneath by bike or foot currently?)!  

Oh wait: Dallas County! So everyone in Seagoville is going to start biking downtown if you tear the freeway down?

That is rich! What is this guy smoking?

REDDYFREDDY
REDDYFREDDY

Chortle -- the Highway Dept seems to forget that the are covered by this monstrosity used to be a black neighbohood. "Ellum" is ebonics for "Elm".  Then there is the matter of Central Expressway plowing through Freedman's Town and when it was redone, the African-American cemetery had to be "moved" .

manpanties
manpanties

I'd vote for the bury and deck it option.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

This discussion breeds nothing but idiotic arguments because nobody is starting in the right place, including in these comments, and even my own idiotic contribution.

The most idiotic of the idiotic starting points are the 'look at ___other city___' and what they have/had/did/are doing.  Dallas is not New York or Chicago or San Fran or LA.  Their core growth differed from the core growth of Dallas in that their city cores were already well established before  freeways were an option.  (Although, NYC is chopped up by even more impregnable foot-traffic barriers, waterways.)

It does no good to cut and paste this or that part of this or that city into Dallas.  We're a different place, with different history, different people and different needs than those other cities.  You want your argument, whether for or against the tear-down, to make sense?   Start out by figuring out what Dallas needs to be the best Dallas it can be.  Then plan your development around that.  As for Deep Ellum, it seems to do best when the city, the county and the state just leave it the fuck alone and let it develop on it's own.

TexMarine
TexMarine

I think there's a glitch in the matrix somewhere around the first paragraph of Kennedy's response.

dingo
dingo

"  ignorant of the history of I-30 and IH345 that ripped apart poor communities in the name of 'progress,'"

The history from when Dallas had 750,000 residents?


This wanker opens his mouth on this subject all too regularly for the past 2-3 years and I have yet to hear a single NUMBER concerning projected impacted freeway capacity and/or utilization. Get real or sit the hell down.

j_angel180
j_angel180

All big city seems to tear down low income neighborhoods, Woodall Rogers is one I had a lot of friends who parents live there for years.

AeroRazavi
AeroRazavi

A huge section of I-45 south of downtown is elevated because it lies in flood zone. There are not a lot of residents entering or exiting the highway here.


Once past the elevated portion, much of the eastern portion of I-45 is still a flood zone with some industrial presence. 


The number of residents adjacent to I-45 that use I-345 to work in the Richardson Telecom Corridor is anybody's guess or perhaps Morris'.


Certainly if they are working in West Plano, they would take the surface streets to I-35 and from I-35 the tollway.



mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

Why is anyone surprised by the pushback from the transportation lobby to the idea of removing a highway? I mean heck, talk about removing a highway is about as strong a heresy as one could imagine to these people. Our success as a society is based and a result of good highways to them, we're the modern day Romans by god who are the best at building roads!

That being said, and in all deference to Patrick Kennedy, removing a link between 2 freeways (US 75 and I-45) and thinking the almost 200,000 vpd that use the road will either just go poof! or meld into the other stressed roads nearby is a pipe dream.

Patrick's view is credible, that I-345 divides the CBD from Deep Ellum and negatively affects the liveability of both areas, with the bridge gone a regeneration of the neighborhoods might happen. Yes, there will be a great increase in property values.

How to accomplish both? One idea is to replicate Woodall Rodgers, bury the freeway and deck the top. Not cheap, but then if we are talking about some serious money on the table the transportation lobby surely will jump on board, right?

Now everyone will be happy, with lots of money to be made. After all this is Dallas...

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@sentelo

Your technology is just Spam, and the only people who consider it "great" are the people most people consider to be Assholes.

bateman.joseph
bateman.joseph

@holmantx  You know most of Deep Ellum was torn down to build that freeway back in the day, now they want to remove it and fill the gap back in.

MikeDunlap
MikeDunlap

How odd then that DECA officially asked TxDOT to consider tearing I-345 down.

I'm sure you know more about what's best for Deep Ellum than the leaders of the community there.

SamHouston
SamHouston

@MikeO What Middle Class?  King Obama and his Progressives have waged war against the Middle Class and is quickly eroded it's numbers.

kduble
kduble

@MikeO That's not what he's saying. He's saying if half go from two cars to one. My wife and I did this. Our 401ks have been flush ever since.

MikeDunlap
MikeDunlap

No need to go to such trouble. A simple avenue would be just fine.

kduble
kduble

@manpanties Would you vote the bonds to raise your taxes to pay for it?

MikeDunlap
MikeDunlap

Do you live in or near Deep Ellum?

Because DECA has publicly asked TxDOT to consider tearing out I-345.

bigjondaniel
bigjondaniel

@RTGolden1  That's completely false. Look at Dallas in the first 1/2 of the 20th century. It had a thriving downtown and a very large (partial privately funded) street car system, and inter-urban railway all teh way from Waco to McKinney. You think all those parking lots in Downtown have always been empty lots?

kduble
kduble

@dingo Dallas gained more residents by annexing new land to make up for the land being depopulated. Once the city became encircled, the growth in population screeched to a halt.

AMF1983
AMF1983

@dingo  This is pretty well researched. Research and statistics are available at www.anewdallas.com in case you are interested....

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@AeroRazavi Do you even get south of 30?  I don't really care what they do with I-345, but you seem to be making the assumption that nobody uses it.  I-45 isn't the only freeway feeding in to I 345.  30 feeds it with east Dallas traffic, 175 feeds it with traffic out of Pleasant Grove and South Dallas.  It is packed every morning.

If you tear out 345, that traffic has to go somewhere.  Some will go through the canyon, making the daily jams there even more insufferable.  some will decide to take 635 all the freaking way around the city.  The rest will take surface streets (as I do now), up out of S. Dallas/Pleasant Grove, through Deep Ellum and Uptown.  It is the fastest way to get from the southern sector to jobs in the Hospital/Market Center/Love Field area during morning rush.

Tear it down and you can kiss the 'funky' right out of Deep Ellum.  DE will become a commuter oriented business zone or return to a dead zone.

bigjondaniel
bigjondaniel

@mavdog  That 200,000 VPD number is made up. Just as an FYI, it's not based on a published government or private traffic study

James080
James080

@mavdog  

Woodall Rodgers divides the CBD from Uptown/McKinney, but it hasn't had a negative effect on either area, even before the Klyde was built.

Deep Ellum and the adjacent neighborhoods are redeveloping at their own pace. Is the idea behind demolishing I-345 to draw Deep Ellum in to the CBD? Will Deep Ellum lose its identity?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@kduble @MikeO  government influencing behavior and liking it.

A fully conditioned citizen.  A collectivist.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@MikeDunlap Do you live in Dallas?  At last look, you didn't.  Regardless, no, I don't live in DE.  I commute through it and spend a good part of my recreation money there (it isn't much, and they won't miss it if I take it elsewhere) because I like the area.  I like that I can walk it while the people who are hurrying to uptown or the airport are doing so high above and off to the west of me.

Good for DECA, is it their aim to destroy DE, or as property owners, are they just hoping doubling or tripling of commuter traffic through the area will make their property priceless to investors and developers?  That IS what will happen, in Dallas morning and evening traffic, the fastest between downtown, uptown and the Stemmons Corridor business district  and the heart of South Dallas and Pleasant Grove puts you going right through DE.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@bigjondaniel @RTGolden1Dallas' core developed largely during the automobile era, where the cities we are so often compared to developed largely in the horse and buggy era.  In the first half of the 20th century, Dallas' population maxed just under 300,000.  I-345 carries 2/3 of that number (of cars, multiply for passengers) daily.  in the 40's, 50's and 60's, Dallas' population boomed, going from ~294k at the 1940 census to ~700k at the 1960 census and again to ~850k in 1970.  The expansion of the city's freeway system enabled this growth and was the carburetor for the economic engines that drove the growth.

I'm not saying it was right or wrong to build all these freeways and expressways in Dallas, I'm just saying that Dallas grew with the roadways, they're an integral part of the growth of Dallas.  That wasn't the case with those other cities.  I'm also neither for or against the demolition of I-345.  I don't really care what they do with it.  My interest is: What is the plan for either keeping or demolishing 345 and developing the area around it?  Just demolishing the freeway isn't going to magically bring in development.  And if development does come in, it may not be the development the denizens of Deep Ellum and the surrounding area want.  The surface streets will once again become commuter centric, because people who live in Southern Dallas will still have jobs downtown, uptown and beyond.  If business wants to capture that economy, they're going to have to change from high dollar burger bars and art galleries.

Both sides of the argument are blowing smoke up your ass, is the original point I was trying to make.  Sorry if you didn't catch it in your rush to correct my history.

dingo
dingo

@AMF1983 @dingo 

Bullshiit. Where is the projected impact on i-30 to i-35 rush hour vehicles per hour? Real numbers matter, not that rosey-posey hipster junk science crap that you somehow believe is 'pretty well researched'.

AeroRazavi
AeroRazavi

@RTGolden1 @AeroRazavi  To answer your question, "yes".  Some of the coolest things in DFW are south of I-30: Buckeye Trail, Trinity River Audubon Center, Cedar Ridge Preserve, Dogwood Canyon.   At least once a week, I am down in those parts.  Deep Ellum? Not so much.


As far as my assumption goes, my assumption is based on Mr. Morris'.



MikeDunlap
MikeDunlap

What is now called Uptown was a collection of neighborhoods for most of the 20th Century. They were gutted by Woodall and surrounding road expansion. It took nearly 3 decades for the area to recover.

Tony
Tony

@James080 @mavdog  I'd disagree with you there. Before the big arts patrons decided to expand the arts district a few years ago, the Nasher, DMA, and Meyerson were surrounded by very low use businesses like used car lots.


KWP is a great addition, but it also highlights how the highway impacted the way the things that went there beforehand developed. The Nasher and DMA have their front doors facing downtown and the freeway side is either a giant wall or service entrance.


On the north side we have a collection of drive through banks and office towers whose users enter through parking garages. It will be many years before development is re-oriented to face KWP.


As far as Deep Ellum goes, who's to say what any neighborhood will be in 10, 20, or 50 years. I'm in Deep Ellum on a weekly basis, but the way to create a (gag) "world class city" is not to preserve everything in amber. Cities are an organism that's constantly changing. Dallas has to look at issues like 345 in a long term frame of what is best for the city going forward.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@James080 @mavdog  

And how in the hell does an elevated freeway impede interaction and flow?  Elm, Main and Commerce (and Canton too), are the three main drags through downtown and Deep Ellum and that freeway in no way affects traffic.  

SamHouston
SamHouston

@mavdog @holmantxThat elevated freeway was not built as a barrier.  It removed the heavy, street level traffic to a much safer manner along the same route.  Most major cities have them, even the Westbank of New Orleans.  Those that don't....well... think of New York City traffic congestion an how so much it is well loved by New Yorkers.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@holmantx

what a bunch of diarrhea.

PD 269 deals more with permitted uses than any other item. The intent of the ordinance was to manage the resurgence of Deep Ellum, and was passed with the work of the users in the neighborhood, the property owners and City Staff all working towards a common goal.

PD 357, Subdistrict 7 that is immediately west of an adjacent to Deep Ellum, has a max FAR of 20:1. so much for the claim of "hi-rise country".

CA-1 is located north of Pacific and west of Pearl. It is not an issue.

Like I said and you didn't refute, the planners saw the freeway  as the barrier between the areas. They correctly saw it for what it is, and what it's removal can mean.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@mavdog @holmantx  

PD 269 is highly restrictive, supporting the Near Eastside Conceptual Plan (1986).  It protects the existing period buildings from removal and demands new improvements to reflect similar construction design to maintain the character of Deep Ellum.  So much for that, I suppose..

CA-1 (Central Area 1) is hi-rise country - Downtown.  so yeah BIG difference in mission and allowed use.

Different neighborhoods entirely.

And the freeway land belt around the CA-1 (of which their PDs further control downtown's uses) has its own zoning - SPSD - Downtown Perimeter. This designation covers only the freewayt belt lands. It's clearly part of the CA-1 overlay, so that will have to also be changed to absorb PD 269 (Deep Ellum) which will also have to be folded into the downtown zoning.

It appears you don't know much about a neighborhood you are cavalierly trying to irrevocably alter for better or worse.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@holmantx

It's symbolic the deliniation of the CBD zoning district, PD 357, and the Deep Ellum zoning district, PD 269, follows the contour of the Freeway.

Clearly the planners see the freeway as the barrier between the two neighborhoods, too.

Of course it is an aritfical, man-made barrier that can be removed if desired.

Oxtail
Oxtail

@holmantx Just like the guy whose behavior is clearly influenced by the government built by I-345?

marvin
marvin

@holmantx @James080@mavdog That's what I don't get.  It's an elevated freeway.  Why not start by just putting in some nice sidewalks (with curb cuts), and some crossing lights, and you can walk right under the freeway.  The shade makes the walk nicer most of the year.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@MikeDunlap  

The place beats your dipshit, sterilized world for sher.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@MikeDunlap  Hey shitbird, have you been on Elm Street lately in Deep Ellum?  The entire concept is to stop traffic flow.

MikeDunlap
MikeDunlap

You must own some pretty disgusting and dangerous whistles.

MikeDunlap
MikeDunlap

Exactly. There is an incredible amount of excess capacity so removing I-345 will do nothing to cause traffic problems there. But it will make for a much more pleasant walk for those who DGAF about being able to fly through downtown and Deep Ellum at 50 mph.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@kduble @holmantx  

Hey pal, I live 400 yards from that overpass and that's total bullshit.  I ride bikes every day through there and it's clean as a whistle.  So don't start making shit up.

kduble
kduble

@holmantx Walk underneath those overpasses and you'll be greeted by the smell of urine and broken bottles of Thunderbird. Your assumption is that driving is the only way one gets around.That's precisely the kind of thinking that got us into this situation.

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