I-345 Recommendation To Be Released Tuesday

TxDOT to hold community meetings to reveal their recommendation for I-345 and to hear public comment

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After years of debate, the Texas Department of Transportation will soon release its recommendation on the future of Interstate 345 in Dallas.

The unmarked section of the elevated freeway splits Downtown Dallas and Deep Ellum on the city's east side and connects Interstate 45 and Interstate 30 on the south with U.S. Highway 75/Central Expressway and Spur 366/Woodall Rodgers Freeway on the north side.

Meetings to see the recommendation and offer additional comments will be held Tuesday at St.Philip’s School, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Thursday at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, 400 Olive Street, from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Details on the meeting locations can be found at this link where the recommendation will also be posted when TxDOT releases it on Tuesday.

The highway was built in 1974 and after nearly 50 years it needs substantial repair or some other solution.

Deep Ellum visitors Monday had a hard time accepting the notion of tearing it down.

"I think they should keep it," said visitor Marquis Lamb. "It’s a lot of traffic coming through, it’s a lot of cars coming through, you know?"

When the idea was first suggested years ago, advocates for removal said it would reunite downtown and Deep Ellum and make way for new development.

Opponents said the freeway carries around 200,000 vehicles a day and getting rid of it would cause traffic nightmares, especially for people from Southern Dallas who rely on the road to get to jobs.

Dallas State Senator Royce West was a strong critic of the plan.

"My thoughts have been consistent. Not only no, but hell no," West said. "It hurts most people in the southern sector."

An alternative was a below-grade replacement of the freeway lanes in a trench.

A further compromise identified over the years would eliminate feeder roads for the new freeway segment, reducing the space required and adding more opportunities to reuse the former elevated freeway land.

"This is the best of both options. It provides that connectivity, that walkability that we’re looking for in the downtown core while still providing that broader connectivity across the region," said Stephanie Keller-Hudiberg with the Deep Ellum Foundation.

Senator West said he now supports that compromise.

"We should be able to come up with an amicable solution where we continue to develop Dallas but also make it certain that people in the Southern Sector aren’t adversely impacted by money," West said.

Additionally, West said he supports the option of adding deck park space over the freeway in a trench, much like the popular Klyde Warren Park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway and a new park under construction over I-35E near the Dallas Zoo.

"We’re putting in place transportation systems for the future but we’re also trying to make sure we maintain neighborhoods as well," West said.

Deep Ellum resident John Nwosu questioned the cost and time it would take to complete these I-345 plans.

"I don’t think it makes sense, I don’t think it does. It’s going to take more money, more time to start building under that one. So why don’t you just renovate, make it better," Nwosu said.

TxDOT offered five options at previous public meetings. One of them will be recommended Tuesday for the public meetings to be held Tuesday and Thursday.

  • No Build/Leave I-345 As-Is:  No additional improvements would occur to I-345 other than those already programmed.
  • Depressed Alternative:  Similar to US 75, where main lanes are low (below DART D2) with discontinuous frontage roads along either side and cross streets over the top. Includes pedestrian and bicycle facilities along the frontage roads and local streets.
  • Removal Alternative:  The existing main lanes would be removed and the city grid is reconnected.  Includes pedestrian and bicycle facilities.
  • Elevated Alternative:  Similar to what exists now, with a smaller footprint of an elevated highway with aesthetic improvements, revised access and signage for drivers, and pedestrian and bicycle facilities under the highway.
  • Hybrid Alternative:  Similar to US 75 and the proposed depressed alternative.  There is limited access from the mainland to local streets that are reconnected over the top. No proposed frontage roads. Access to the area is from local streets, I-30 or Woodall Rodgers Freeway. Includes pedestrian and bicycle facilities along local streets.
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