Dallas: Interstate 30 Submersion Will Reunite Cedars to Downtown
Feature Photo (above): View of the I-30 “Canyon” looking west from U.S. Hwy 75/I-345 overpass. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Dallas (Dallas County) — The 1.3-mile length of Interstate 30 south of the Dallas convention center and Farmers Market district will be submerged, a project with spin-off benefits such as freeing up land for redevelopment and opportunities to reconnect downtown to the Cedars.
Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation revealed updated plans Oct. 29 for a $300 million redesign that reroutes expressway traffic through a concrete tunnel.
The reconstruction extends from South Griffin Street between Canton and Cadiz streets and continues east to where I-30 meets U.S. Highway 75/I-345.
This segment of I-30, known locally as the Canyon, is the first phase of TxDOT plans to reconstruct I-30 eastward through East Dallas, Mesquite and Garland.
I-30 at this location tends to create bottlenecks, being only three lanes wide in either direction. TxDOT would more than double capacity, going to seven lanes in each direction, with each lane being 12 feet wide, plus 10-foot-wide shoulders.
However, by going to a tunnel system, the footprint narrows dramatically. Ramps and frontage roads will be eliminated.
Existing and proposed lane configurations. Source: TxDOT.
Construction can begin as soon as 2022.
The current project phase–Falls 2019 to Spring 2020–is preliminary design schematic and TxDOT’s environmental studies. Public comments will be accepted through Nov. 13, 2019. Emails go to Ashton.Strong@txdot.gov.
What follows will be the final schematic and preparation of the environmental document (Summer 2020).
The construction plan preparation and right of way acquisitions are to take place the latter part of 2020 through 2021. The construction phase is estimated to take three years.
There will be substantial real estate gains, about 14 acres, to the city for redevelopment. Much of this comes from the westbound lanes moving south to be next to the eastbound lanes.
The local government entities–city, county, school district–will have first right of refusal to the land but the city of Dallas has already been discussing its future use.
TxDOT suggested an above ground parkway for some portion of the current site of the westbound lanes. There is also talk and concept designs for new parks to be placed over the submerged freeway, something like the Klyde Warren Park project that took place when a section of the Woodall Rodgers Freeway went underground.
Any improvements involving parks over the expressway lanes will require a funding commitment from the city and/or its partners for park development.
In addition to the tunnel system, TxDOT will fund new road bridges with bicyle lanes and sidewalks across Lamar, Griffin, Akard, Browder, Ervay, Harwood, and Cesar Chavez.
The Cedars, a South Dallas neighborhood, was cut off from downtown when the interstate system was constructed and suffered decades of neglect.
It has only been in the last decade that it has experienced a revival, having benefited from a general trend favoring infill residential development and gentrification of neighborhoods near a vibrant central business district.
City of Dallas design goals for TxDOT.
Dallas officials, sensitive to the adverse effects to the Cedars over the years, submitted a list of guiding principles to TxDOT to consider during the design process:
Accommodate multi-modal connections across the I-30 corridor.
Incorporate ‘complete streets’ and other urban design elements to frontage roads.
New I-30 shouldn’t be higher or wide than the current I-30; include ‘at-grade’ crossings to improve neighborhood connectivity.
Include better multi-modal connection to the High Speed Rail station area.
Maintain the street grid, where appropriate.
Maximize development potential of abandoned right-of-way through ramp re-configuration.
Provide for strategic placement of deck parks.
Allow for alternative scenarios for I-345 redesign–prefer that project include design and plans for construction of I-345 concurrent with I-30 project.
One scenario would have deck parks over I-30 connecting Dallas Heritage Village in the Cedars to downtown. Image: Google Streets.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.