Dallas city leaders Monday received a briefing on a long-awaited future plan for Downtown Dallas freeways called City MAP, short for Master Assessment Process.
The plan was developed by the Texas Department of Transportation over the past year as some urban planners pushed for demolition of a major overpass on one downtown freeway and neighbors cheered the success of a new park over another one.
"They said, how can we fix some of the mistakes we've maybe made in the past? I like that attitude," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said.
The City MAP plan combines freeway planning with urban planning, a major departure from tradition for the agency.
"We have experienced a real transformation in thought process here," said Texas Transportation Commissioner Victor Vandergriff.
Options in the plan include replacing the elevated freeway link between Interstate 45 and U.S. 75/Central Expressway with a depressed road that would permit deck parks like the popular Klyde Warren Park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway.
"The amount of lift in property values and people that moved into the area is phenomenal," said Vandergriff.
The reconstruction of Interstate 35E/R.L. Thornton Freeway called The Southern Gateway, already underway, includes plans for a deck park near the Dallas Zoo.
Rawlings wants Interstate 30 to be the next priority, starting with a link over The Canyon area between downtown and The Cedars neighborhood.
"It is a huge chasm that divides our city, and as we go further east, it divides East Dallas to Fair Park and South Dallas, and is one of the reasons that we have not had the growth that we have needed,"
The plan also includes a totally new suggestion of diverting I-30 to an entirely new path away from Downtown Dallas, opening all of the old I-30 path for redevelopment.
Kleinman said the North Texas region could overtake the Chicago area in population within 20 years, with Dallas at the core.
"It's the key factor in this," Kleinman said.
Vandergriff said money is available to build the major new roads with new state transportation funding programs recently approved by voters.
"It's a sustainable funding stream over an extended period of time. If we look at it as taking proper bites of the apple, we can do that," Vandergriff said. "I would consider my time on the commission a failure if we did not come up with a plan to address the downtown core of Dallas."
Rail transit and high-speed rail connections are considered in the plans.
Timelines for completion of the projects vary from six to 24 years.