The Dallas Economic Development and Housing Committee took the first step Monday toward exploring the potential removal of Interstate 345 through Dallas.
I-345 is a raised two-mile stretch of roadway that sits between downtown Dallas and Deep Ellum. While it connects Highway 75 and Interstate 45, it seems to disconnect the two neighborhoods below it on either side.
"I feel like there's a really strong line to where downtown starts and where Deep Ellum starts," said Deep Ellum resident Meagan Novak. "I know it's only a couple of blocks, but you don't feel like you're downtown."
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The economic committee voted Monday to recommend the city take part in a Texas Department of Transportation study of the impact a tear-down would have.
"It's the opportunity to realize that connectivity," said Matt Tranchin, executive director of the Coalition for a New Dallas. "Right now we have a highway separating our cultural epicenter from our downtown work center. We need to tear these down so the quality of life can improve throughout the city."
There is precedent for it.
After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, the city tore down a raised freeway access along the Embarcadero waterfront. The area is lined with parks, housing and restaurants now.
The full Dallas City Council is expected to vote next month whether to join TxDOT in the study to potentially replace the raised freeway with boulevards.
Proponents have said Dallas should have a seat at the table in looking at how housing and businesses could be developed in the area.