Tearing Down I-345 Idea Is Starting to Get Interest From Important Rich People

Categories: Transportation

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We know the real estate industry is doing well in North Texas because we keep getting stuck in traffic at huge construction sites. If you have an idea for a weird new thing you'd like to be built in Dallas, local Realtors are a good, powerful group to get on your side.

Ten years ago, few people could have predicted that Dallas would one day have a big park on top of the freeway. Then, in 2004, a trade group called the The Real Estate Council put down a $1 million grant to fund a study looking into the feasibility of such a park. This caught the attention of a few other rich business people, and now we have Klyde Warren Park.

Now that same Real Estate Council is putting its money into another promising-sounding feasibility study. The group is giving Dallas $125,000 to examine the effect of tearing down the Interstate 345, the controversial proposal that has been inspiring heated debate/trash-talking wars among bureaucrats, urban planners and local opinion columnists these past few months.

The Real Estate Council actually offered Dallas the money for the study back in March, but nothing happened for awhile. Council CEO Linda McMahon told the Dallas Business Journal a few days ago that the city just didn't seem interested in her group's free money offer. That story seemed to give Dallas a good kick, and the DBJ is now reporting that Dallas finally accepted the money.

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Paul
One day, this confusing freeway interchange may be replaced with hot real estate.
The Real Estate Council's official stance is that it doesn't have an opinion one way or the other; the study is supposed to be an unbiased look at the effect of a tear-down. But the Real Estate Council's board of directors and executive committee are made up of a few downtown-based commercial firms that would likely stand to gain from a new, nearby patch of empty land.

They're not the first group to express interest in the highway debate. Last month, Ralph Hawkins, chairman of HKS Architects and former Trammell Crow executive, told The Dallas Morning News that his Dallas Regional Chamber is also thinking about the I-345 and what tearing it down might mean for businesses. "We are bring constrained now by the highways built around us for people coming to work," the paper quoted him saying.

Residential Realtors aren't quite as interested yet as their commercial counterparts. "We've never discussed it," says Bill Head, spokesman for the Metrotex Association of Realtors, but then again, he points out that residential Realtors aren't concentrated quite so close to the city center.

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57 comments
fred.garvin.mp.713
fred.garvin.mp.713

This thing about tearing down 345 and either replacing it with the same or redoing it entirely is that pretty soon we're going to find out how people adapt to it being gone. Maybe in the process of tearing it down people will have time to reconsider the options.

This, to me, illustrates the paradoxical fatal flaw in the car-based model that we rely upon: in the last 25 or so years LBJ has undergone 3 major renovations, each one lasting several years. So in order to relieve congestion, we endure about half the road life of a major route...renovating that route in a way that INCREASES congestion. It's rare that it I take LBJ anywhere these days, certainly not during peak traffic time.

Tolldya
Tolldya

More delusions. It's a sport in these parts.

fordamist
fordamist


What we're seeing is early planning.  IF LBJ is ever finished (and it becomes a toll road) the construction companies need to have a new cash cow to keep the guys busy.  

Of course,  whatever replaces 345 will have to be a toll road,  to pay for it.


mwobko
mwobko

Ever been on Northwest Highway or Preston? That's what 60k cars a day looks like. 345 has 3 times that much. Even if the planners are right and you lose a third or more of that, where we'll we put 2 Northwest Highways worth of traffic? And don't forget that every choice crosses the DART green line and is blocked by rail gates every 5 minutes.

Almost everything it connects to is below ground already - Woodall Rodgers, Central, and I-30 to the west. Put it under ground or rebuild it, but taking it away is a fantasy.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

I don't know much about traffic planning, urban engineering, walkability (other than being able to put one foot in front of the other) and all the other stuff that goes into this debate.

I do know that I drove that area for several years; first, taking 175 up to 45/345 to Woodall Rodgers to 35 and then on up to work.  When I got tired of wrestling through the traffic on that route, I took Malcolm X up out of S. Dallas, through DE and then up through either downtown or up good latimer (eventually Maple) to get up to where I work.  Now I just say the hell with it and take the buses and trains.  A lot more relaxing.

One thing my second route taught me.  When cars can't take 345 to get across the downtown area, they drop onto the surface streets.  Deep Ellum becomes anything but a walkable/bikeable paradise.  It is good that the streets in DE are little better than dirt roads, the rough terrain keeps vehicle traffic just below mach speeds, but people will still try to pass you every chance they get, even without passing lanes.  Woe be unto the hapless biker that happens to be moseying along near the curb in that case.

If you take 345 down, my guess is that DE will look like that on a daily basis.  The 7-11 might survive, the establishments that rely on walk-up patronage wont.

DerpDudeTX
DerpDudeTX

Build us some cute tunnels that will get us where we need to go and then you can have your real estate mecca of hipsterdom.  Otherwise this notion of getting rid of a freeway that handles thousands of cars per day is quite silly.

sleepyhead420
sleepyhead420

It is a little sad that we couldn't do SM Wright properly and now we are going to do 345 for the real estate developers. 

kingfish247
kingfish247

The pearl clutching over that lousy, stinking, loud elevated highway is exhausting.  We're a city not an effing speed bump on the way from Mesquite to Irving or Houston to Frisco.


Use a driving app.  If you need to get anywhere across Dallas at any other time than the hours of 9pm to 4am it will probably tell you to do the exact opposite of what you think you should do.  They'll tell you to drive 25 miles by immediately leaving the city and get on a tollway rather than driving 12 miles as the bird flies.  Big deal.  Lots of us live in those 12 miles so get a tolltag, use PGBT, and enjoy the rolling concrete bukkake on LBJ/Project Horseshoe Pegasus to satiate the fixation on digging and lanes and cars and ooooh big dump trucks.


Or, find a nice walled off suburb and enjoy the #4 or whatever ranked place on the 'Healthiest Health and Enjoyment of Happy Lives While Living in a Place That Resembles a City' list sponsored by Forbes, MSN, USA Today, and Self/D/Cat Fancy magazines.

OxbowIncident
OxbowIncident

So they are going to bury I-30 underground , and then keep I-345 up to 5 stories in the air. That ramp exchange is going to be so fun ! Perhaps on ice days we could have downhill skiing in downtown Dallas? ....Which clown is running this circus?

Turning on I-345 into a boulevard would add 5 to 10 min. going through downtown. I'm sure the type A drivers will go insane with this delay. Tear it down!

Greg820
Greg820

#1  Tunnel underneath 345 from 30 to 75 and then tear it down.

#2  Tunnel underneath 45 from S. Lamar to downtown to reconnect that neighborhood and allow easier access the southern downtown area.  All of the bridging will have to be torn down and re-graded for a 345 takedown anyway.

But be careful what you wish for.  345 does act as a barrier for traffic and development for the residential and small businesses from Canton to Ross. A Museum Tower with a death ray butting up against Deep Ellum is just a poorly designed, under the table plan away. 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

"Knocking down that bridge to North Dallas would certainly have its advantages" Chicki Day, Highland Park Realtor and Elysian Fields soccer mom.

Then it's just a matter of upping the toll on the North Dallas Turnpike to $47.50.

in the name of walkability, of course.

Rooster0620
Rooster0620

I'll say it again...this is dead in the water until the people pushing for this can come up with something better than, "Um. Yeah. Once we tear it down, all those cars that travel that freeway will go...you know...er um...somewhere..."

MattL11
MattL11

You forgot the most (self-)important group amongst whom this has inspired heated debate/trash-talking: anonymous blog commenters.


I don't see this as being some sort of panacea for all that ails the neighborhoods around I-345, but speaking as someone who used to live in the shadow of the thing, the area would likely benefit from tearing it down. 


But how much? And what would it be a significant to the regional transportation system? What would the cost be? Would the monetary and traffic costs be outweighed by the benefits to the city center and, through that, the region as a whole? Answers to these questions and more will surely be answered by feasibility studies that are objective and in no way reflect the leanings of their sponsors, for that is the Dallas Way.


Hey, if nothing else, tearing the thing down would surely make people think twice before traveling to Houston.  

kduble
kduble

@mwobko  You don't have to replace the traffic because it always fails to materialize. Remember Carmageddon? The gridlock was a no-show. The traffic citywide actually declined in Los Angeles while the construction was underway. People were cautioned to stay off the roads and they did.


Freeways have been removed in cities throughout the world. There's no one instance where the traffic got worse as a result. There's only a certain amount of traffic motorists will tolerate before finding an alternative to driving.

kduble
kduble

@RTGolden1  When motorists unexpectedly find a freeway clogged, they take the side streets. In a longer-term approach, however, people eventually find a way to avoid the congested area. It's like when a stroke stops an artery in your head a kills a portion of your brain. The synapses rewire themselves over time.

kduble
kduble

@DerpDudeTX  Costs too much, and it doesn't really address the urban blight the freeways cause.

mwobko
mwobko

Ever been on northwest highway? 345 carries 3 times as much traffic. I gethst

mwobko
mwobko

Picture northwest highway. That's 60k cars per day. 345 carries 180k. 3 times that much. Sure some traffic will go elsewhere, maybe even a third. Where we'll you put 2 or 3 northwest highways of traffic? Oh and all your choices have a DART train blocking it every 5 minutes.

becoolerifyoudid
becoolerifyoudid

@OxbowIncident  I think the boulevard idea needs to be looked at closely. 


I still can't figure out how you do $100 million in maintenance repairs on a highway up in the sky without taking some of it down first.  And if you are going to spend that kind of money and take part of the highway down anyways, why not just try building it on the ground.

kduble
kduble

@Greg820  Double the tax on gasoline and we can pay for all of this.

JMFitzmaurice
JMFitzmaurice

@Rooster0620 Hopefully, that will be one of the primary goals of this study; to see if there truly is a feasible way to redirect that traffic flow. Frankly I don't know which is why I  A:  have avoided staking out a position on this and B: am glad to see the issue being studied rather than decided on prematurely. 

Guest
Guest

@Rooster0620 It makes sense and has happened in other cities. If you tack 10 minutes on to going through the mixmaster and now using LBJ or Northwest Highway is 5 minutes more convenient, people will reroute.


What part of that is confusing to you?

nammer
nammer

@kduble @mwobko Oh, see the problem is attempting to use reason with these pawns of the real estate corporate lobby who are the real ones who want this torn down.  Uptown is overflowing capacity, Oak Lawn is too close to the airport (and the gays) so they see several hundred acres of downtown adjacent real estate there for the taking...it's not about getting rid of cars it's about adding more town homes and West Village wannabe mixed use developments.  They say taking the freeway down would make the area less hot during the summer, yet they're proposing adding thousands of new AC units to cool these condos and stores, plus they're ignoring the fact that right now most of that area is in the shade for most of the day because of the freeway...And the freeways being removed in other cities argument?  Those cities already had strong, comprehensive public transport systems, including light rail and connecting bus services that wouild enable people who chose to leave their cars at home viable options for getting to work.  This idea would leave thousands of people in  South Dallas, who are already living life with little or no consideration from City Hall, without a way to get to work in the morning. 

mwobko
mwobko

Carmageddon was one weekend. Of course you could recreate that one time event on any freeway. I'm talking about every day on a weekday for commuters. Two completely different things.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@kduble @RTGolden1 You're missing two key elements that put the lie to your theory.  1) A lot of those people can't 'find an way to avoid the congested area' (which would cover, at least, everything from Baylor Hospital to the Trinity and from I30 up beyond Uptown), because they either work, or live, in that area.  2) For all the rest of them, there is no way to avoid the congestion.  We live in So Dallas, PG and OC, and work either in the downtown/uptown area or beyond it.  We have to go through downtown to get where we need to go.  And I'll nip all the morons in the bud right here, don't anyone dare suggest we just move closer to work or find different jobs.  Jobs are scarce, and I can't afford to live where I work.

Now, find me a route that avoids current congestion, much less the added congestion from the removal of 345, does NOT route me all the way around the friggin city (has it's own congestion problems anyway) and does not dramatically increase the cost of operating my vehicle. Ready, Set, Goo!  yeah, didn't think so.

I have my solution, DART.  Not everyone will, or even can, use that option.

do_youthink
do_youthink

So even you, an "advocate" for this ridiculous fantasy, compare tearing down the highway to a stroke. A paralyzing, possibly fatal stroke, one that in the best-case scenario KILLS PART OF YOUR BRAIN. Uh... okay.

kduble
kduble

@mwobko  People can and do find alternatives when freeways closed. Various cities have closed freeways throughout the U.S. and the world. Can you point to one example where traffic grew worse as a result?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@holmantx @OxbowIncident dont forget, its going to be so walkable that there will be so many people walking cars wont be able to flow smoothly through the area

kduble
kduble

@becoolerifyoudid @OxbowIncident  Building the freeway on the ground would sever Deep Ellum from downtown even worse. But a boulevard, on the other hand, would link these communities.

Rooster0620
Rooster0620

The part where you actually think this is true.

kduble
kduble

@nammer  Why is building freeways a good thing when it benefits real estate interests in exurb communities, but a tear down that would similarly benefit our own community by raising tax rolls is a bad thing?

If you really cared about people in southern Dallas, you'd support economic development in southern Dallas. You wouldn't be supporting spending tax dollars on freeways to take them to jobs outside Dallas.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@kduble @mwobko show us a place where traffic got better?  ALso, there are about 6 well known cases of removing a freeway in a major city

mwobko
mwobko

It works in places like San Francisco where you have a perfect grid of streets and about 50 alternative routes. Downtown and deep ellum are not San Fran

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@kduble @becoolerifyoudid @OxbowIncident Yes, crossing 6 lanes of Dallas traffic trying to beat a dizzying maze of train crossings is much easier than walking along a wide sidewalk under a bridge, with the traffic way above you.

mwobko
mwobko

Especially because the boulevard would have to be about 15 lanes wide

monstruss
monstruss

@becoolerifyoudid @kduble @OxbowIncident Don't talk for everyone in Deep Ellum. I for one am pissed that the D-Link can't go a couple of extra blocks to a stop in Deep Ellum, because it would make getting to downtown and Oak Cliff super convenient. 

monstruss
monstruss

@ScottsMerkin @monstruss @becoolerifyoudid @kduble @OxbowIncident Actually, I walk around Deep Ellum all the time as it is, but having something connecting Deep Ellum to Downtown, like D-Link in the short run and maybe a COMPLETELY NEW NEIGHBORHOOD opened by the removal of 345 would make it even more convenient. I know you post here a lot, but please don't make up conversation when you're bored. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

I was thinking though that someone who actually lives in DE and wanted to go downtown wanted a bus but I thought we wanted more walkability. It was 84 out today. We walked from 2100 ross over to jasons on main. Was nice. Im rambling, but yes, d link into de would be more convenient

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