A major reconstruction of the Downtown Dallas Interstate 30 Canyon won support from the Regional Transportation Council Thursday along with two other "North Texas Big Projects."
More than $3.5 billion for the Big Projects is the result of voter approval of new state funding for transportation.
"The money is important, because the region has long advocated for its fair share of the revenues," said Michael Morris, Transportation Director for RTC.
It comes as work is just getting started on a portion of Interstate 35E in Downtown Dallas known as Lowest Stemmons, where a smaller $79 million project will add collector-distributor lanes between Oak Lawn Avenue and I-30 to help with the constant traffic jam there.
"You were weaving across the traffic to move to another freeway or exit, which seems backward," said Texas Transportation Commissioner Victor Vandergriff. "It eliminates a significant amount of the congestion that exists just by correcting that problem."
That project is part of the state's Clear Lanes program to improve mobility in urban areas. The Southern Gateway project already underway to the south on I-35E through Oak Cliff is another Clear Lanes project.
But a bigger traffic relief solution is still needed through downtown, since the City Council decided in August to kill the proposed Trinity Tollroad that was envisioned for 20 years an I-35E alternate route.
"We have to make up for lost time," Morris said. "This is in the middle of one of the busiest downtowns in the United States. Staff is suggesting this is critical."
One of the three projects endorsed by the RTC Thursday is $1.6 billion for major Downtown Dallas work to upgrade that corridor.
Included are additional improvements to I-35E to the north of I-30, reconstruction of the I-30 Canyon that could include a deck park, and connections to Interstate 45 and Highway 175 to the south of I-30.
Vandergriff said the RTC vote is a big step forward.
"It is a really big one, and I think it is an exciting time for Dallas. I don't think it will just be the Lower Stemmons, in fact I know it won't be. My support is around making sure we commit to the entire corridor," Vandergriff said.
Two more projects endorsed by the RTC include:
- Expansion of Interstate 635 East between U.S. 75 Central Expressway and I-30 through portions of Dallas, Garland and Mesquite.
- Loop 820 East and connections with Interstate 20 and Highway 287 in Tarrant County.
The full Texas Transportation Commission must still approve all three Big Projects before detailed design work can begin.