A new job-training program unveiled Wednesday swayed critics of the Dallas plan to remove the S.M. Wright Freeway and the notorious “Dead Man’s Curve.”
Crashes are common at the curve where U.S. Highway 175 C.F Hawn Freeway becomes S.M. Wright Freeway heading north to Downtown Dallas.
The Texas Department of Transportation plans to remove the curve by extending the C.F. Hawn Freeway to the west, linking 175 directly to I-45, diverting 175 traffic from the S.M. Wright Freeway.
Years of debate have centered on the next phase of the plan, which will demolish the 10-lane S.M. Wright Freeway and replace it with a six-lane surface street through South Dallas.
Some critics wanted a four-lane street, concerned that even the six-lane road would carry too much traffic.
“What we were concerned with was economic development and the opportunity for the redevelopment of South Dallas,” said Rev. Gerald Britt, a community leader.
But Britt attended the City Hall press conference Wednesday where South Dallas City Councilmember Carolyn Davis unveiled the job training plan.
The program will focus on training workers from South Dallas, with $2.5 million in money normally reserved for road construction.
“It started in this area because there’s a workforce out here that needs to be tapped into, there’s a contracting element that needs to be increased,” said Bill Hale, Texas Department of Transportation Dallas District Chief Engineer.
Hale said transportation officials in other Texas cities are now studying the Dallas job-training plan.
“Tell everybody in Austin, we want to make this so successful that everybody through out the state is going to be doing it,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said.
Some existing South Dallas business people are still not sold on the S.M. Wright reconstruction.
Rick Svay owns Texas Liquor on S.M. Wright near Hatcher. He counts on the heavy freeway traffic.
“If you have no traffic, you have no business,” he said.
Svay believes the existing roadway is just fine and doubts removing it will improve the aging neighborhood.
“Why not use that money to renovate it instead of tear it down,” he said.
Construction to eliminate Dead Man’s Curve is set to begin in early 2014 with the S.M. Wright demolition to follow in 2017.
The job training program is gearing up now.