Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hopes Sky High for Tearing Down Central

Traffic Lights
Just kidding. If you believe that, I have some land in Frisco to sell you that I promise is no more than a fifteen minute drive from downtown Dallas. Instead of instilling high hopes, TxDOT came to Richardson Monday night to brief the city council on a study TxDOT has initiated for the US 75 corridor from I-635 to SH 121. The study is expected to be complete by September, 2015.

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:
The purpose of the study is to identify mobility needs in the corridor and to minimize the impacts in the study area.
"Mobility needs." Does that sound like TxDOT is more interested in promoting the communities along the corridor or in moving cars through the corridor?

"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.


glbeach said...

By gum, we need a tunnel! Make a tunnel (think like the Queens or Holland in NYC), start it between 190 and Renner, and dump it out between Spring Valley and 635. Accommodate all of that traffic, clear up the surface area for Mark's dream walking mall, eliminate the east/west divide . . . oh, and while we're at it, add more DART in that very same tunnel.

The city talked about a couple of tunnels earlier - one at Spring Valley across 75 (done) and one at Campbell (un-done). Instead of these little 'pretend' tunnels, just put in a a real tunnel. Make Boston's 'Big Dig' look like a practice run.

We can plant wild flowers where 75 used to be.

Mark Steger said...

Hmm... Dallas buried the Woodall Rodgers freeway and built the Klyde Warren Park over it. Let's not just let TxDOT widen Central through Richardson for the benefit of people who want to live in McKinney and work in Dallas. Let's force TxDOT to do some creating thinking here so Richardson benefits, too.

mocktronic said...

You know, guys, I think you've both hit on something here. A tunnel is a really good idea, and the reason behind TxDOT wanting to widen Central is to relieve Collin County originated traffic. Maybe the focus, as far as changing minds go, needs to incorporate not just the Richardson city council, but also Dallas County.

Sassy Texan said...

Those in the industry know there have been a multitude of studies by TxDOT on 75 over the years. If they ever act on one of them, that will be the day.

Mark Steger said...

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