Downtown Dallas' Tunnels: Are They Really All That Terrible?

Categories: Development

thetunnelsfromdowntowndalla360.jpg
Nowadays, Dallas' network of tunnels are pretty widely reviled as an urban planning nightmare that have sucked the life off downtown's streets. They are a "sordid story," Downtown Dallas Inc. CEO John Crawford told the City Council this morning. "Frankly, we're trying to do away with them as quickly as possible."

Philip Kingston has an alternative suggestion: Do nothing.

"It's a waste of time to even talk about, frankly," he said following his colleagues' protracted discussion on the topic this morning that ended with an agreement to have additional protracted discussions in the future.

See also: Into Downtown's Tunnels, A Horror Story

This is weird. We totally had Kingston, whose district includes downtown, pegged as a tunnel hater. He's generally aligned himself with the progressive urban zeitgeist promotes cycling and walkability and wants to tear down I-345; Councilman Scott Griggs, his ideological counterpart on urban issues, seemed willing to dynamite the tunnels himself at this morning's meeting. But not Kingston.

"They're vastly over-blamed for harming downtown," Kingston says. "I don't think they're a great idea. Certainly if we had it to do over again, we wouldn't have done them," but "they're not currently harming street life. They're pretty much dead as it is."

He was bemused, and a little miffed at not being given a heads-up beforehand, at his colleague's debate his morning, which focused on whether to close public access at one entrance to one small segment of tunnel that is basically unused. Close all the entrances or keep them open, it's a non-issue because businesses and pedestrian traffic have already shifted to the downtown streets, Kingston says.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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52 comments
DallasHammster
DallasHammster

Thinking that anything at all that's wrong with downtown Dallas will be solved if only we closed the tunnels is about as stupid as thinking that anything at all that's wrong with soccer in the United States will be solved if only we had promotion / relegation between the pro leagues.


Here's the punchline: Do you know what is actually in the tunnels themselves?  Absolutely NOTHING!  NOTHING at all!  Technically speaking, whatever you find down there is not in the tunnels themselves, but in the basements each office tower.  Shut down the tunnels, and the food court under Bank of America Plaza will still be serving Bank of America Plaza tenants.  The food court under 1700 Pacific will still be serving 1700 Pacific.  These business will have no incentive to "move to the surface", because they are limited interest establishments which will continue to serve their limited interests.


The problem with downtown Dallas is the lack of affordable housing.  These playgrounds for the super rich are not filling up as fast as they could, so the services for these residents aren't coming either.  That's what the government should be focusing on.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

How did Councilman Kingston go from thinking the whole topic is a waste of time in this story to requesting a study of its history in another story, both stories on the same meeting?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

I cant even get to the tunnels from my building in downtown without hitting the elements outside.  Oh well, I guess I could call it another half ass job by the city but I wont.  Why do they want to close the tunnels,  Its the one part of downtown that has walkability and no freeway cutting through it

asdfasdfasdf
asdfasdfasdf

Been living/ working in Dallas for over 10 years and had no idea ANY of this existed.

LavenderLove22
LavenderLove22

I think these tunnels need to stay open.

The city just needs to give them more attention and make people aware that they are there.  Not that we need to look up to Houston for ANYTHING but the city sets a great example for a thriving tunnel community with restaurants, retail, etc. and their city is completely on board with promoting these tunnels for the public.


Destroying the tunnels would just be a complete waste of tax payers money.  The city either needs to pump up the tunnels PR or just close them because like I said, tearing the down is a WASTE of money.

WhyDontYouJoinNAMBLA
WhyDontYouJoinNAMBLA

Fill them with water and put gondolas in them. BAM instant San Antonio. 


I mean from the way Shutze has been rambling on and on like Noah for the past 10 years, you'd think they would be full of water already. 

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Anyone else as amazed as I with Hill's sound bite on the news. "Anything they can do to get these drug houses..."

Is that her code word for car washes? What a farce.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

What about in case of tornados?  Where else would you wanna go?  Out on the street, in a hail storm?  What about a shooting...  The tunnels aren't the great problem with Downtown.

J_A_
J_A_

The tunnels were great when I worked downtown. Noodle Nexus, Kuai, Potbelly, Paradise. The line for Chik-Fil-A was always packed.

endo_jmf
endo_jmf

I enjoyed exploring the tunnels when I worked downtown.  This reminds me of the recent effort to open a portion of the fair grounds in the "off-season".  If you don't market it, it's likely not going to be successful.  Then the only "apparent" solution is to close it.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Wow, could there be a better example of sterile Dallas than that pic?

Anyone know the tunnels well? Like a decent sized pub? Trying to get Eric to organize a pissup for the DO blog gang.

Anyone curious as I?

CityGirl4634
CityGirl4634

I lived downtown for 3 years and I have worked downtown for the past 12 years. I eat lunch in the tunnel nearly every work day because of the variety of food court options available. I walk to and from my office/parking garage via the tunnel because I feel safer in the tunnel than on the street, it's cleaner than street level and there are no homeless people in the tunnel. I've never been pooped on by any pigeons in the tunnel, which has happened multiple times when I've walked street level. Until downtown Dallas is a cleaner place, I will keep using the tunnels.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

It's not the tunnels, but the people who hate them, that creep me out.

How can you think of them as a threat?

It's like Charter Schools (ha!). What up with that shit, man?

juanmayeaux
juanmayeaux

I love the tunnels when it is typical Dallas weather of either 100 degree heat or a rain bucket of a thunderstorm.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

So where's a comprehensive map of downtown attractions?

Tunnels, whitewater, zoo (Marilla), main library homeless shelter....

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

I'm betting Kingston s beef is that the people chrged with correcting it will be the sam hamfisted klutzes that wrought it and the trinity whitewater and want to 'help' fix that.

So, even tough it's broke, leave it be and maybe it'll get a following. But trying to fix it with the same crack team is just a pit.

lolotehe
lolotehe

Ask the question again in the middle of August.

russp
russp

Montreal has a 20 mile tunnel system and it is really great and very heavily used. The difference between Montreal and Dallas? Montreal actually has things worth walking through the tunnels to get to.

lgoodson5
lgoodson5

I used them ALL the time when I worked downtown. Rain, too cold, too hot, construction were all reasons to use the tunnels. Business suit and pantyhose on a 100°+ day lets see do I want to walk 3 blocks outside or use the air conditioned tunnels... let me think...

James080
James080

Random musings while considering what other infrastructure in Dallas needs to be demolished.

Let's reroute I-345 through the tunnels, then demo the elevated road. Win-Win.


Let's route the Trinity through the tunnels and create an indoor white water feature. Win-Win.


Let's demo City Hall and relocate all city offices into the tunnels. Win-Win.


Anyone...anyone.....

WylieH
WylieH

I would lean toward closing them, except for the fact that so many of the buildings downtown are designed like fortresses, with barren plazas in front and no real interaction with the street... so there isn't really much street level activity to "activate."

I have a strong opinion on this, I'm just not sure what it is.

pnd2131
pnd2131

When I worked downtown I used them all the time! They are great when it's raining and when it's 100 degrees outside. Clean them up and let the public know that they are there and people will use them.

mizpam
mizpam

When the weather is bad, best place to be!  Love the tunnels!!  Except the one that goes to the right and then left

and you're somewhere over by the library.  Scary.

lankyw
lankyw

Need to be expanded, and used. Open on weekends

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

They should re-open and freshen up all the tunnels.

The key to success downtown is to have something for everyone so everyone plays.

Some people don't want to go outside. Better to have them working or living or visiting downtown in a tunnel where they can spend money to support the businesses. Other folks want to be up on the street. Real World Class Cities have it all. 

Add signs or even create some "metro station" type entrances from the street so people can get in and out. They're there, make the most of it.

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

Keep them open, focus on retail and housing development in downtown (See San Diego, I know a ball park is out of the question for Dallas, but Horton Plaza was a success before the Ball Park was put in and changed downtown SD) and the tunnels will come back into use organically, especially for those 100 degree days and ice storms

jonathan_eisenzopf
jonathan_eisenzopf

I love these tunnels. Have played cello down there a few times and the reverb is awesome.

Dallas2014
Dallas2014

They should do with these tunnels the same thing they're attempting to do with all things dead in Dallas; turn it into residential. Who wouldnt go for an underground, tunnel apartment?!

JustSaying
JustSaying

When I was in college, somebody tossed me a Hustler Magazine that had a lady in it known as The Texas Tunnel. It haunted me so much that many years later it is still very first thing that pops into my head whenever I hear or read the word tunnel.

genrox
genrox

Make them bike friendly, problem solved. Lol

cashin247
cashin247

very intriguing very intriguing


P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Kill those damn tunnels.

doublecheese
doublecheese

I loved the tunnels when I worked downtown.  Beats the hell out of walking around on the surface in the heat or in the rain.  Used to eat at Chef Wang all the time.  That place is great.

hugodahl
hugodahl

@russp  And great to get from point to point during those crazy -40 days, people watch, and not that I've done it, but crop-dusting!

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@James080  

I think a combo package of item #2 and item #3 on your list would solve a lot of problems in Dallas.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

I give a Ba Da Bing on that. Do anything with it but 'fix' it.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

To be fair, I'm moving back to Chicago next week (yay!) so I'm going to be living once again in a real city with mass transit and walkable neighborhoods and Lake Michigan and beaches and architecture and neighborhoods that also has tunnels under the loop connecting government buildings and department stores and whatnot so you can get around on your lunch hour when there's a howling blizzard blowing upstairs but sidewalks that are crowded anyway, so I don't have any dog in this hunt anymore.

Daniel
Daniel

@JustSaying  She sounds like an amusement park ride. One that involved  a scandalous accident.

doublecheese
doublecheese

@JustSaying  Google's coming up empty on that one.  Just some references to Hustler's "Beaver Hunt".  Perhaps it's for the best.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@Montemalone  
This board will miss you but I see that you've already adapted to the faster business pace of Chicago by Betty-Culbreathesque abandonment of commas and extended use of run-on sentences because stuff's moving so fast that common punctuation just can't wait for the breathlessness of the next big thing that involves cliches, and one comma.

Seriously, good luck.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Oh, and city government that really makes these idiots look like amateurs when it comes to corruption and incompetence, but it seems to work anyway.

JustSaying
JustSaying

@doublecheese Just imagine the pic in the headline with hair all the way around the opening. They were about the same size.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@JustSaying @Montemalone  
For a moment there, in reference to porky pulchritude, I thought I saw "less inclined to take care of something that can be ridden so easily." (ref: Freud, politically incorrect jokes.)

JustSaying
JustSaying

@Montemalone When I visited Chicago I was kind of surprised at the amount of fat girls. Some of the locals told me it was because of the "great food" the city has to offer. I think it was because 9 months out of the year is coat weather so people are less inclined to take care of something that can be hidden so easily.

JustSaying
JustSaying

@alteredjustice I appreciate your due diligence but I am not clicking on those links. I don't want to see it again.

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