Dallas Plans to Convert Busy Uptown Streets to Two-Way Traffic

Long stretches of McKinney and Cole avenues would convert from one-way traffic

Months after members of the Dallas City Council gave the initial go-ahead, business leaders in Uptown have continued to work on a plan that would convert long stretches of two busy streets from one-way traffic to two-way.

If the plan holds, approximately five miles of McKinney and Cole avenues would be converted to two-way traffic within the next few years.

“McKinney and Cole are currently high-speed, one-way corridors that are dangerous for pedestrians,” said Dallas City Council Member Phillip Kingston, who represents Uptown and its 19,000+ residents.

The decision to convert the traffic flow, which was approved in a unanimous vote by Dallas council in December 2016, is an attempt to improve safety for pedestrians.

Drivers who travel down three lanes of one-way traffic tend to drive much faster than drivers who must face the opposing traffic of a two-way street, according to Patrick Kennedy, an urban design consultant hired by Uptown Dallas, Inc. to work on this plan.

“They will just be in the center lane going as fast as possible,” Kennedy said of the typical driver in a one-way street configuration like McKinney or Cole. “That increases stopping time and they have delayed reactions, as well. The risk of severe injury goes up significantly.”

Uptown Dallas, Inc, which represents business and property owner interests in the neighborhood, has been the driving force behind the two-way conversion.

Katy Slade, Chairman of Uptown Dallas, said this week that the dynamic in the neighborhood has changed in the decades since the city initially converted the traffic flow to one-way. At the time, it was an effort to allow for quick trips toward Downtown during the construction of U.S. 75/Central Expressway.

“Nobody needed to stop in Uptown, and that has changed significantly in the last 30 years,” Slade said. “Now we are a destination in our own right.”

Uptown boasts more than 200 restaurants and 160 shops which serve as part of the allure for its ever-increasing population of renters and homeowners.

The two-way conversion of McKinney and Cole would not involve widening either of the streets; instead, new signage would be installed as well as new striping and indications on the surface.

“Yet it makes a significant difference because it slows traffic and it returns Uptown to being a neighborhood for the people who live here,” Slade said.

Uptown Dallas, Inc. estimates that the overall cost of making the change will be somewhere in the area of $15 million. That money would likely come from a combination of private funding as well as funds from an upcoming bond election.

At this point, according to Slade, the plan is to make the conversion within the next five years.

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