Dallas freeways could move, be rebuilt following traffic study

More information is available at www.dallascitymap.com.

Dallas transportation officials are considering drastic measures to smooth future traffic flow as projected population growth congests area freeways.

Discussed under a plan known as Dallas CityMAP are relocating Interstate 30 farther south; lowering part of I-30; and modifying, removing or lowering I-345/I-45, all near downtown Dallas.

Though all in central Dallas, the measures would aid any Fort Worth commuters — and those entering Big D from elsewhere — though funding and specific proposals have yet to be finalized.

- FWBP Digital Partners -

“This is a very unprecedented effort that the Dallas district has done,” said John Nguyen, project manager with the Texas Department of Transportation.

Speaking at the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition’s Oct. 5 monthly meeting in Fort Worth, Nguyen discussed what Dallas residents have said at several public meetings, as well as suggestions made by elected officials. No decisions have been made, Nguyen emphasized. Rather, the focus stemmed from community input collected since Victor Vandergriff, commissioner with the Texas Transportation Commission, raised the issue in 2014.

Since then, officials with the city of Dallas, the Texas Department of Transportation, and HNTB and Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. engineering consulting firms, among other agencies, have sought ways to determine potential costs as they mull traffic impacts and design options for I-35E, I-30, I-345 and the Woodall Rodgers Freeway.

In a separate study, the North Central Texas Council of Governments’ 2040 Mobility Plan predicts a 48 percent increase in area population by the year of the study’s name. Without sufficient transportation funding to ensure mobility, the area may be unable to sustain economic growth, according to the agency.

- Advertisement -

Despite voter passage of Proposition 7 in 2015 and Proposition 1 in 2014 — both passed to raise funds for infrastructure upgrades by reserving part of sales tax revenue and the state’s motor vehicle sales tax — officials have deemed the resources inadequate to fund changes that a study initiated by Gov. Greg Abbott considers vital.

According to the Texas Clear Lanes program spearheaded by the Texas Transportation Commission to identify and improve the state’s most congested areas, downtown Dallas has six freeways considered among the top 25 of the state’s 100 most congested roadways.

That’s the reason area officials are determined to cobble together a specific plan to improve Dallas traffic before it worsens.

“It made sense to pick these off in the order we want them done,” said Terry Watson, a project manager at Kimley-Horn, referring to the aforementioned freeway realignments, among other possible changes. Firming up such plans also raises the likelihood of obtaining funding, he said.

- Advertisement -

“Coming up with a plan tends to get things done,” Watson said.

Nguyen agreed.

“The congestion is just getting worse and worse every day,” said Nguyen, describing an aging infrastructure built in the 1950s.

But the effort transcends freeway rehabilitation and reconstruction. By rearranging entry and exit points of the primary motorways connecting residents in outlying areas to downtown, officials hope to reconnect neighborhoods and make the city more accessible for those traveling its freeways.

“That’s largely the reason for this exercise,” said Mark, “to find out where there are opportunities sooner rather than later to connect neighborhoods on either side of this freeway corridors.”

To ascertain driver behavior and determine how they use what officials call the “spoke” system of corridors as they drive through the downtown area, Bluetooth detectors were placed at several points around downtown. They gauged commuters’ driving patterns.

“We did this study for seven days, 24 hours a day and collected millions of data points,” Watson said.

With the information collected, the city of Dallas, Dallas County, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, the North Central Texas Council of Governments and TxDOT are expected to prioritize projects, sequencing and funding resources.