Conflict Boils Over Plans for I-345 in Dallas - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Conflict Boils Over Plans for I-345 in Dallas



    A very small interstate in downtown Dallas is becoming a big issue. (Published Thursday, April 10, 2014)

    A very small interstate in Downtown Dallas is becoming a big issue.

    Interstate 345, which stretches over the Deep Ellum neighborhood, is only 1.4 miles long and has no signage identifying it. The small stretch of road connects I-45 and I-75 near the intersection of I-30.

    “I had to look it up. I live here and heard about it,” said Deep Ellum resident Joseph Lacerte. “I still had to look it up and see if I knew what I was talking about.”

    The stretch of road and is in need of maintenance — but some feel it needs to be knocked down altogether.

    Those who support demolishing the roadway said the highway divides the neighborhood and causes a disconnect between Deep Ellum and other parts of Dallas.

    Eric Rosenstock, who owns CrossFit Deep Ellum, said he wants to see an improvement with the interstate.

    “As it exists now, I am kind of in the opinion that anything is probably better,” said Rosenstock, “Anything to help traffic and flow to and from Deep Ellum.”

    Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings released this statement about the proposed changes to I-345:

    “I have participated in several discussions over the last few weeks with local business leaders, concerned citizens and the Texas Department of Transportation about the status of I-345.

    While I remain undecided about the proposal to tear down the highway, I am convinced that repairing it is necessary before any decision is made about the future of I-345.

    I learned that canceling or postponing renovations will increase safety concerns for travelers on the highway, and I refuse to compromise the safety of our citizens for any idea, regardless of its merit.

    It is also important to understand that tearing down I-345 would be very expensive, with TxDOT estimating a cost of approximately $1.9 billion to fund demolition and associated street and bridge improvements. And it’s a time-consuming process as well. Similar projects have taken up to 10 years to complete.

    Even if safety, cost and time weren’t factors, the City of Dallas does not have the authority to affect the decision to repair I-345, which has already been endorsed by TxDOT, the Federal Highway Administration and the state Legislature.

    The conversation about how highways interact with our city is worthwhile, and I’m pleased that TxDOT has expressed its willingness to engage other transportation partners to fund such an effort, including a long-term study of the area surrounding I-345. I will be working with TxDOT and those partners moving forward to ensure that process takes place in a timely manner.”

    If plans are made to change the highway, Deep Ellum residents said they definitely want better access from I-345 to the neighborhood.

    Many neighbors said they are afraid how long a project like that would take.

    “I am a little scared of that kind of major construction going on for God knows how many years, so I don’t know,” said Lacerte. “We will see.”

    “It worries me a little bit just from the stand point there is a lot of traffic issues around this area, so as long as they a good plan it should be OK hopefully,” said Rosenstock.

    Proposed changes to I-345 will be discussed at a Regional Transportation Council meeting on Thursday.

    Even though some maintenance is likely to begin on I-345 quickly, any final decisions on drastic changes with the highway could take years to complete.