Thursday, January 24, 2013

LBJ/Skillman: So Was I Right?

Recently, I commented on the news that the City of Dallas was planning a makeover of the LBJ/Skillman/Audelia intersection, just south of Richardson. My hopes and dreams were, shall we say, kept in check. Well, the first public hearing on the proposed makeover was held. Ellen Raff has the story.

After the jump, let's find out if I was right to be doubtful.

I predicted that traffic congestion relief was going to drive planning. I said, "My fear and expectation is that any overhaul of this tangle of streets will focus primarily on moving more cars through that intersection." Here's how the public hearing went:
The biggest proposed change will be an attempt to improve the traffic flow for the surface streets, especially Skillman and Audelia, and reduce confusion for drivers.
So, congestion relief it will be. I said, "That goal will work against any goal to make the neighborhood itself a destination for people to go to and not just to go through." Here's how the public hearing went:
Some even suggested the area has potential to become a kind of "gateway" for people traveling from the north and east into Dallas.
So, gateway it will be, not a destination. A gateway is something you go through, right? Not a destination you go to.

What about that DART station? I said, "Still, there's a hidden gem in this neighborhood that could turn out to be the key to redevelopment. That's the LBJ/Skillman station on DART's Blue Line." Here's how the public hearing went:
Skeptics were well represented. Some fear improvements at the Dart Station might make it easier for criminals to enter our neighborhoods.
We don't need no stinkin' public transit. Wall off the DART station from the neighborhood. Gateway. Congestion relief. So, how did I do? Were my doubts justified?

Now, this was just a public hearing. There was no word on whether the planners did anything at the meeting to promote change, to break out of the kind of traditional thinking about suburban design that gave us the current intersection and neighborhood in the first place. And if so, whether the public was receptive, or, the other way around, whether the planners surrendered to the public skeptics and shelved the most important ideas about transit-oriented development in this neighborhood. We'll just have to wait and see how this all plays out.
The city and the committee will continue to gather information over the coming months.
Somehow, the first public hearing doesn't encourage me to think that they'll get it right.

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