A: We began as two professionals in the real estate and design industry who both believe in Dallas, but questioned the capacity of current plans to impact meaningful change that lives up to the city of Dallas’s ambition to truly be world class. Our goal is for Dallas to be mentioned amongst the great cities of the world and the first step along that path is to include the tear-out of IH345 as a tenth option in TxDOT’s feasibility study. Furthermore, this process is important enough that the public process and debate must be more meaningful and inclusive than these typically are. This is too important for the city’s future to not take the tear-out option seriously.
A: Nobody really. It could make somebody’s once a year trip to Houston slightly less direct and convenient. However, the convenience for one tends to make entire cities inconvenient. On the other hand, the city of Dallas gets increased tax base and international publicity for reversing its sprawling course. The state of Texas and TxDOT reduce their maintenance bill while selling land to reduce their debt. The citizens of Dallas get increased amenity, by way of new parks and transportation options as well as higher quality and diversity of neighborhoods and housing choice. The business community can potentially get the highest quality property in the state. It could be argued that if anybody loses it is the suburbs who benefited from the highway infrastructure. However, over the long-term it is best for these suburbs to become more “complete,” rather than simple bedroom communities, and less dependent upon Dallas.
A: Whatever happens will require a public process to determine the wants and needs of the concerned public. The purpose of the highway tear-out isn’t to take away amenity from the public, but rather reduce or remove negative elements which inconvenience those amenities. The walk from downtown or Deep Ellum to the dog park will be significantly safer and more comfortable with more walkable streets, neighborhoods, and shops along the way.
A: It is true that the elevated freeway does provide shade. However, the traffic above and the excess paving from it and the parking lots nearby contribute heavily to urban heat island effect. Due to the highway tear-out in Seoul, ambient temperatures in the area dropped 8°F. It also reduced carcinogenic airborne particulate matter 21% in the area. The highway and parking will be replaced by parks, trees, and an urban street and block structure for walkable urban neighborhoods. These tighter-knit development patterns and reduced urban heat island effect create for more temperate micro-climates.
A: That is answered in long form in the section on traffic. The short answer is that in every case of highway capacity reduction within cities, total traffic congestion dropped.
A: That will happen either way as the existing highway is structurally unsound. It has to be replaced or repaired indefinitely. However, there are two future courses for the city and the metroplex. Continually expand and construct new highway infrastructure and perpetual disruption, or systematically and incrementally reduce the infrastructure, cost, and maintenance burden of heavy, long trip infrastructure towards a more balanced tax base to infrastructure ratio and a safer, more livable city. It took Seoul, South Korea 20 years to construct the Cheonggye Freeway, but just 2 years to deconstruct it and restore the buried stream as a central city park.
A: That information can be found in the research section in more detail. To date, Seoul, New York, Portland, Milwaukee, and San Francisco (two) have successfully torn out freeways from their central cities. San Francisco is currently planning to expand the tear down of the Embarcadero for 15 more blocks. Also, Baltimore, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, and Seattle are all in various planning stages.
A: This is also answered in long form in the economics section. Compared to the other 9 options, the tear-out is the only option that leverages significant economic development and private investment. The financial aspect is the easy part. The purpose of this website, the organization, and our outreach is to generate enough political support to imbue our political leaders with the knowledge and will to do what is right for the city of Dallas.
A: We have looked at that option, however we believe the full tear-out option is preferrable and would make for a better city functionally and qualitatively for the future. Here are some of the reasons we elected to pursue the complete tear-out and reconstruction of the city grid option:
Cost. The tear-out could be accomplished with little more than the portion of the budget for reconstruction that is dedicated to demolition. We estimate it would cost about $65 million. On the other hand, the burial of the freeway could cost between $900 million and $1.2 billion at a time when public coffers are already stretched to the breaking point.
Returns. We estimate the top end of the range of private investment that could be leveraged through a burial to be $2.06 billion or slightly more than half of what the full tear-out could leverage of $4.06 billion. The primary reason for this is...
Land Development Efficiency and Value Capture. The amount of land, both existing public right of way and privately held underdeveloped or vacant land, that could be leveraged into increased investment is minimized by the distance it takes for the highway to maintain its interchanges with Woodall Rodgers and I-30 before descending deep enough for parks, streets, and development to bridge over it. Where the Tear-out option recaptures 63.93 acres of public Right-of-way under the existing freeway, the Burial option only recaptures 36.28 acres.
Payback Time. Due to the higher costs and lesser private investment, and therefore less yearly tax revenue ($110 million to $55.8 million), the time it will take for the project to pay-off its upfront capital costs would rise to more than 18 years at full build-out. Whereas in the tear-out study, with its lower costs, would pay back the capital costs in less than one year's time.
Traffic. For reasons mentioned in the TRAFFIC section, we believe the traffic will actually be improved through the highway tear-out. By removing it altogether, it would allow us to realign and improve the various North-South connectors that are rendered incomprehensible and convoluted by the presence of 345 including: Pearl, Cesar Chavez, and Good Latimer. Each of these streets could be improved, tree- and building-lined boulevards for pleasurable and efficient North-South movement.
Likely Inability to Toll. Due to the necessary narrowness of the tunnel, it is unlikely that additional toll lanes could be added. Furthermore, studies from around the country suggest using projected toll revenue in order to finance the project under-perform expectations.
Infrastructural Oversupply and Car Dependence. Dallas has one of the highest rates of highway capacity per capita. We have a lot of freeways and they cost lots of money to maintain and rebuild when the time comes. Dallas also has one of the highest rates of car-dependence as measured by the percentage of commuters by private automobile, where Dallas is tied with Detroit for as most car-dependent among the 25 largest Metros. These two statistics are directly related.
"Macro-market." Reducing the overall quantity of highways and highway capacity has been shown to improve congestion over time because it reduces car-dependence and increases availability of housing in new, walkable neighborhoods. In effect, doing so shifts the broader real estate market to favor more profitable and sustainble development patterns of infill and density rather than continuing to push the market increasingly outward and towards more car-dependence and congestion.