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

RawlingsGrowSouthDARt.JPG
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is still officially on the fence about tearing down I-345, the two-mile stretch of freeway between downtown and Deep Ellum. He's spent the last several months meeting with, in his words, "local business leaders, concerned citizens and the Texas Department of Transportation."

Even after meeting Tuesday with TxDOT district engineer Bill Hale, Rawlings hasn't officially decided on what the freeway's ultimate fate should be. He did, however, say that, in the near-term, repair is the only option.

"Canceling or postponing renovations will increase safety concerns for travelers on the highway, and I refuse to compromise the safety of our citizens for any idea, regardless of its merit," he said in a statement released Tuesday evening.

See also: TxDOT Won't Tear Out Deep Ellum's Freeway, But Dallas' Highway-Removal Push Has Just Begun

"It is also important to understand that tearing down I-345 would be very expensive, with TxDOT estimating a cost of approximately $1.9 billion to fund demolition and associated street and bridge improvements. And it's a time-consuming process as well. Similar projects have taken up to 10 years to complete."

That doesn't sound like someone who's about to come out swinging for a highway tear-out, but who knows. He at least deserves credit for pushing back against TxDOT's knee-jerk refusal of the proposal and forcing them to at least pretend to entertain the notion.

Also, while that $1.9 billion figure may seem daunting -- suspiciously daunting, even, as if TxDOT wants to take the option of the table -- Dallas has proven its willingness to mobilize money and support for a big fanciful highway transformation. Unfortunately for I-345 haters, the Klyde Warren Space That's Not a Freeway Anymore doesn't have much of a ring to it.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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68 comments
robbysalz
robbysalz

$1.9 billion?!


That's ridiculous.


$100 milion max for a freeway removal. There are historical case studies from other cities that can be cited for freeways of a similar size. 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

The rubber meets the road on this when our sister cities weigh in.

We have a long-standing pact with 'em.

"The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) is a voluntary association of, by and for local governments, established to assist local governments in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit, and coordinating for sound regional development."

A BIG chunk of the NCTCOG covers transportation infrastructure agreements and partnerships.  In short, we just can't tear down large swaths of limited-access expressways replete with a little arrogant kick in the pants statements like "find yer own way to work, man!" .

They'll just meet arrogance with arrogance, and put a toll on their piece of the transportation grid.  Or tear down their part.

One big reason why Dallas/Fort Forth functions is because commuters can commute.  You wanna mess, move to Austin.

You wanna fight in the courts, just try unilaterally knocking down your junk of paradise just because.

If you want to live in the country, go live in the country.  But New Urbanists have an obligation to the rest of the New Urbanists, and that is to Do No Harm to your adjacent New Urbanists.

Otherwise it turns into an intramural free-for-all.

Prejudices are useless. Call Los Angeles any dirty name you like—Six Suburbs in Search of a City, Paradise with a Lobotomy, anything—but the fact remains that you are already living in it before you get there. - Clive James (b. 1939), Australian writer, critic. Flying Visits, “Postcard from Los Angeles 1” (1984; first published in Observer, London, 16 June 1979).

benwellsstreet
benwellsstreet

There should be landscaping and a jogging trail under that freeway, a playground etc

People say the freeway cuts off deep ellum from downtown.

No, a bunch of empty fenced off bulldozed abandoned unused and empty parking lots cut off deep ellum from downtown.

The freeway is like 100 feet overhead. Provides some sweet shade in the summer

MikeO
MikeO

I have been trying to wrap my head around this proposal since I first heard about it. Can someone please explain this to me:  

I am driving south on HWY 75 and I get to Citiplace/Woodall Rogers. I want to take I45 down towards Houston.   

Am I going to have to take Woodall Rogers to southbound I35, then I30 through the canyon to get back to I45 south? If so, the people who want to do this need to be thrown in a mental institution.  

Or am I going to get off the freeway and take surface roads through Deep Ellum to get to I45 south? This would definitely increase traffic to the entertainment district, but not the kind of traffic that they are looking for. Again, let's send them to the mental institution.

This has got to be the stupidest idea from one of the stupidest city governments in the country! How do they keep coming up with these idiotic, backwards thinking proposals?

Can someone tie a plastic bag around their heads while we can still get them for free?

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

hmm, $1.9 Billion? the road is 1.4 miles long.

that is about $1.3 Billion per mile.

The LBJ reconstruction project is budgeted at $3.1 Billion for the 13 miles of road....

The Tarrant Express project is budgeted at $2.5 Billion for 13.3 miles of road...

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

"We had to rebuild the village in order to destroy it "

RobertStinson
RobertStinson

Old conventional wisdom: Rawlings has a light political touch.

New conventional wisdom: Rawlings is a political lightweight.

mightcan
mightcan

There is NO way it costs $1.9B to tear down that road. NONE. 

Lorlee
Lorlee

And yet -- they are not put off by the $2Billion and rising cost of putting a toll road in the Trinity Ditch. 

Rooster0620
Rooster0620

This is never going to happen.

There's no way you'll be able to talk all but a very small minority into spending $X billion and enduring years of traffic nightmares for this.

James080
James080

What we need, citizens, is to replace I-345 with a Calatrava Tunnel. He does tunnels too, doesn't he? 


WhiteWhale
WhiteWhale

It is a good thing no one uses I-345 otherwise you would have to worry where all the cars and trucks would go.

swimonedal
swimonedal

it's interesting that proponents of tearing down the highway say that when the Trinity Tollroad is built, it will divert traffic from I-345...so building a road in a greenspace is supposed to replace a road torn down to create green space?  Sounds very Dallas...

lakewoodhobo
lakewoodhobo

Where does Txdot get the $1.9B figure when it says it wants 10 years to "study" the effects on traffic? Guess the cost-analysis people smoke crack while the traffic study people smoke dope.

kduble
kduble

@robbysalz They're trying to scare the public with bogus numbers. They use a worst-case scenario inflated figure for a tear-down, yet they factor out savings from no longer performing maintenance, and most of all, tax revenue generated from taking non-taxable public land, making it taxable, then watching its value rise as an effect of the tear-down.

dsmithy3211
dsmithy3211

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  Because the I-345 connector will just suddenly disappear into the ether?


Southbound traffic with a terminus in downtown or Oak Lawn will still end in downtown or Oak Lawn, as before.


Southbound traffic that eventually feeds to I-35E or I-30 westbound will simply continue on US75 under Klyde Warren. This will lead to a (more?) ridiculous traffic cluster around I-35E, especially southbound. Hopefully (and this may be too much to hope for), the removal of I-345 will coincide with a redesign of I-35E/I-30/DNT intersection of utter hopelessness.


Southbound traffic that eventually feeds to I-45 or I-30 eastbound will simply... wait for it... not use US75 in the first place. That traffic will simply use Northwest Hwy or I-635. Or use East Dallas surface streets, for Fair Park traffic and the like. 


Any remaining stragglers will simply have to use the US75/I-35E/I-30 loop of death.


And that's sort of the whole point. Traffic from suburbia to suburbia should not go through downtown. See Austin.   

kduble
kduble

@holmantx Austin has been one of the fastest growing cities in North America, and its growth has outstripped its infrastructure. Like Phoenix and Las Vegas, it's a victim of its own success.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@holmantx  

NCTOG is a governmental entity that is funded  by a slice from federal transportation and is not really answerable to anybody.  It is a bureaucracy that is spawned from the mating of bureaucracies.


Sure it is useful for the purpose that you describe, but if its sole purpose is to coordinate transportation projects that could just as easily be done by the various municipalities working together and signing off on a federal or state funded project before the funding would be released for the project.


There are other COG's in Texas.


The biggest transportation ripoff in my opinion is the bonuses paid for the various tollroads in the area have indeed gone into that black hole known as the general fund.


I am not aware of any, but please name at least one highway project in the NCTX area that is being funded by the bonuses that were paid for the toll road rights in NCTX.


The only non toll highway project that I am aware of in the area is the "Horseshoe Project" in Downtown Dallas.

kduble
kduble

@benwellsstreet No vegetation will grow there due to the lack of sunlight. That's why it will always be uninviting.

kduble
kduble

@MikeO You could choose to go either way, but we're talking about the health of our center city. The world doesn't revolve around you and your occasional trip.

Tolldya
Tolldya

@MikeO  It wasn't the city's idea.  Private parties launched this one.

MovetoAustin
MovetoAustin

@mightcan Correct, genius.  It costs $1.9B to tear down the highway and replace it, then repair all the side streets and bridges.

James080
James080

@Lorlee


It's ironic that TxDot estimates they can build 10 miles of new expressway in a drainage ditch for roughly the same price they can demolish 2 miles of expressway.



Catbird
Catbird

@James080 pretty funny...it could be a new vista for the Spaniard!

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@WhiteWhale That's my big contention with this as well.  Do they think all that traffic is going to evaporate?  It will do what it does as soon as 345 starts backing up, and flood into the neighborhoods.  bye bye deep ellum bike sharrows, hello deep ellum decline.

WylieH
WylieH

@swimonedal I haven't heard anyone say that, except Rodger Jones at the Dallas Morning News.

WhiteWhale
WhiteWhale

@swimonedal Well there are already solar powered water taxis why not flying cars?  The cars can fly over Deep Ellum and land on the other side

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

@lakewoodhobo"Where does Txdot get the $1.9B figure"

A better question is who will get the 1.9 B what it is spent ?

dingo
dingo

@ScottsMerkin 

I go to a Gizmodo staff writer FIRST for all news involving the application of technology and scientific principles to the planning, functional design, operation and management of facilities for transportation in order to provide for the safe, efficient, rapid, comfortable, convenient, economical, and environmentally compatible movement of people and goods.

http://thegreatdiscontent.com/alissa-walker

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin  

I would like to point out that the before and after pictures do not match.  The before picture for Dallas is especially off.

The article fails to point out that some of the projects relocated the freeways, for example, the "Big Dig" in Boston.

If you will study a map of Downtown Dallas, there are actually three North-South routes on the east side of Downtown.  There is Central Ave, which was replaced by Central Expressway.  Then Good Latimer Expressway was built to the east as a bypass to Central, then the so-called I345 was built.  

Look in a regional map and look at the north south transportation corridors.  The original north south transportation corridor was the H&TC RR.  US75 and IH45 parallel this RR from Sherman-Denison to the TX14 exit south of Corsicana.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@kduble @holmantx  

Yours is a bromide.  Dallas PLANNED and was slammed for it.  Now comes the same sloe-footed jargon which whipsaws Austin.  They are a product of their collectivist thinking however, reality has been helping out. Don't you think?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @holmantx  

You aren't addressing the question.

Let's say there are 3,000 people living in and around downtown Dallas.  Let's assume there are another 130,000 in daytime population (workforce commuters).

What do you say to the other 6.3 million people in the Dallas Fort Worth Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area regarding downtown resident's desire to tear down that linkage?

These are the people we are going to have to answer to.

Here is the TxDoT Statewide Planning Map: http://www.dot.state.tx.us/apps/statewide_mapping/StatewidePlanningMap.html

Turn on the AADT 2012 traffic count function.  Zoom into Dallas Fort Worth.  As you can see, that stretch is recording 149,000 vehicles per day.

Now zoom out.  What if every other municipality and/or Dallas neighborhood who had a similar count ALSO desires to knock it down, ostensibly to improve their lot in life?  What makes them different than us?

And while NCTCOG is voluntary, those agreements and partnerships are in writing.  

This reminds me of that short-lived "neat idea" where by the City of Dallas decided to invoice all non-Dallas automobile accidents for emergency and police costs.  Oh yeah?  Two can play that game.

But again, what do you say to the other six million, much less to the 130k commuters downtown and more importantly, to the big private sector companies located downtown, as well as the federal, state and local government employers?  And to the convention center traffic?

benwellsstreet
benwellsstreet

Yea, because there are no plants in the world that grow in shade.

Also... The sun shines there twice a day...

x1x1x1x1x1
x1x1x1x1x1

@kduble @MikeO

First, MikeO is right.  Tearing down 345 is going to overwhelm that part of downtown with unwanted traffic.


Second, you're missing the point.


The crunchy granola neighborhood idealists think that tearing down 345 will blend the downtown into Deep Ellum.  Yes, but not in a good way.  Right now, 345 is both a physical and psychological barrier.  The downtown ends there, but it protects Deep Ellum from being bulldozed.  Once that barrier is gone, hello redevelopment.  Let's get rid of these crappy old buildings and put up some condos and apartments.


The farmer's market is instructive.  We're fixing it by tearing most of it down.  Do you really thing Deep Ellum will survive if it's seen a just an extension of downtown?  I don't.

x1x1x1x1x1
x1x1x1x1x1

First, MikeO is right.  Tearing down 345 is going to overwhelm that part of downtown with unwanted traffic.


Second, you're missing the point.


The crunchy granola neighborhood idealists think that tearing down 345 will blend the downtown into Deep Ellum.  Yes, but not in a good way.  Right now, 345 is both a physical and psychological barrier.  The downtown ends there, but it protects Deep Ellum from being bulldozed.  Once that barrier is gone, hello redevelopment.  Let's get rid of these crappy old buildings and put up some condos and apartments.


The farmer's market is instructive.  We're fixing it by tearing most of it down.  Do you really thing Deep Ellum will survive if it's seen a just an extension of downtown?  I don't.

kduble
kduble

@MovetoAustin That figure overlooks the revenue side and the cost of deferred maintenance. A bunch of public land would suddenly become revenue-producing in a valuable part of the city, and the cost of maintaining the overpasses would vanish.

mightcan
mightcan

@MovetoAustin @mightcan  Thanks for the polite correction. I didn't take "$1.9 billion to fund demolition and associated street and bridge improvements."  correctly, evidently.


I didn't know that "street and bridge improvements"  means a new replacement bridge! Since,you know, the point of the article was to understand what its teardown costs would be.


Perhaps the preceeding sentence was a misdirection? "It is also important to understand that tearing down I-345 would be very expensive"


One would have thought that perhaps there would have been a more optimal way of staying that. Yea, genius!

kduble
kduble

@RTGolden1  "Do they think all that traffic is going to evaporate?" There's quite a bit of experience to support that it would do exactly that.

kduble
kduble

@WylieH @swimonedal The parkway wouldn't replace I-345. The parkway would run northwest to southeast. I-345 runs north and south.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@dingo @ScottsMerkin 

Yes, why let mundane items such as a traffic engineering study, or a cost benefit analysis get in the way.  With the highway out of the way the air will be cleaner, life will be hipper, thousands of high wealth individuals will start living in the urban core high rise condos and we will have pretty pictures to look at while we are waiting to cross the street.  Of course, the number of cars will be radically less as we will have high walkability quotients for the area and plenty of dedicated bike lanes.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@kduble @holmantx  

The city of Austin added 375,970 in population from 1990 to 2012.

Dallas (city) added 234,285 during that same time frame.

But the transportation infrastructure overlays the metropolitan area of both.  This is where the obligation exists among the municipalities and it is the inhabitants of these metros that the participants must answer to if one unilaterally decides to tear down their part of the grid.

The Austin-Round Rock MSA added 988,000 during the above time frame.

DFW added 2.66 million people.  Get it now?

How you conclude is being curved by percentage increases instead of absolute increases, which is where your error lies.

The bottom line is, DFW has done a FAR better job of providing expressway linkage than the Austin MSA and that translates to livability and peace of mind.

One town in the metropolitan area cannot be allowed to just tear down its infrastructure without affecting the livability of us all.

It is the mindset of Austin.  And no doubt downtown Austin would like to tear down I-35, much to the chagrin of the rest of its MSA and San Antonio too.

kduble
kduble

@holmantx @kdubleNo, I've told you what I think. The population of Dallas has increased 25% during the past 35 years. During this same period, the population of Austin doubled. As is the case with rapidly growing cities everywhere, Austin's infrastructure must play catch up.

kduble
kduble

@benwellsstreet Sunlight twice a day really won't support grass, particularly when it can't get rain either.

kduble
kduble

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  You're pressuming that figure to be real.

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