After the jump, what TxDOT says, what I say, and what Richardson council member Scott Dunn says.
First, what I say. I've covered this ground many times in the past, so reread what I've written before. Today I tweeted my quixotic dream for Central Expressway succinctly, "Tear It Down!"
To which Richardson city council member Dunn tweeted his reply, "Sorry, IT 'ain't' going to happen! but Look at one of the perceived problems IT might resolve east Richardson vs west Richardson".
I'll take that as an encouraging sign, in that it shows the Richardson city council is aware that Central Expressway is a wall splitting the city in two. We need ways to punch through that wall, not ways to widen it to support more traffic.
Let's take a look at what TxDOT said to see if we can guess what they'll recommend in September, 2015, when they complete their study. From the memo Richardson's Dave Carter prepared for the City Council:
"Mobility needs." Does that sound like TxDOT is more interested in promoting the communities along the corridor or in moving cars through the corridor?The purpose of the study is to identify mobility needs in the corridor and to minimize the impacts in the study area.
Source: City of Richardson.
"Minimize the impacts in the study area." Does that sound like TxDOT is going to try to heal the community divide created by that highway slashing through Richardson or like TxDOT will only try to keep the road widening from dividing the city much worse than it already is?
If TxDOT's words weren't enough to give the game away, look at that graphic above, the one with the Christmas tree of traffic lights. That's from a page in the presentation titled "Potential Alternatives." They might as well have titled it "Crazy Alternatives to Widening the Freeway."
With tells like that, you know the important part of the TxDOT "study" is all but written already. All that remains to be done is overlay any one of a dozen other Texas road-widening freeway project maps on US 75 and you'll have the inevitable recommendation from TxDOT.
Only the Richardson city council stands between the best interests of Richardson and this road-widening, community-dividing, downtown-killing, multi-billion dollar TxDOT construction project. The council is telling TxDOT the right things. For example, "East/west, intra-city permeability through the US 75 Corridor must be meaningfully improved by providing for safer, more attractive and comfortable pedestrian and bicycle mobility." The TxDOT presentation included a page with that and other Richardson careabouts, which will make it hard for TxDOT to claim ignorance later. I'm just not at all confident that TxDOT will seriously consider implementing anything that conforms to those careabouts. And I'm not at all confident that the Richardson city council has the will, the strength, and the fortitude to stand in the way of TxDOT's bulldozers.