In this week's roundup of Dallas news, the library is now loaning out laptops. There's a decision to be made about a DART Rail project in downtown Dallas. There's a road being closed permanently that runs beneath I-45. And there's a company name change for the daily newspaper.
Here's what's happened in Dallas this week:
TxDOT has permanently closed a segment of South Harwood Street, from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to South Boulevard. This closure is needed because they're widening I-45.
It's part of the S.M. Wright Phase II project, which will reconfigure the existing interchange between I-45 and SH 310 (S.M. Wright Parkway), Cesar Chavez Boulevard, and Good Latimer Expressway.
The project will transform S.M. Wright Freeway into a six-lane, street-level boulevard with traffic signals. Freeway overpasses will be removed, and the boulevard will include landscaping and sidewalks.
The closure is a two-block strip of South Harwood that currently lies beneath I-45. Fine more info on their website at www.smwrightproject.com. The project is scheduled to be complete in 2023.
Dallas Public Library is now allowing residents to borrow laptops, bundled with hotspots for wi-fi access.
Laptops can be placed on request just like a library book and picked up through the Library To Go curbside service. They must be returned in person to the same location where they were borrowed, during library open hours.
Laptops can be requested online at www.dallaslibrary.org, by phone at 214-670-1400, or by contacting a local branch. They can be checked out for 30 days with the option to renew if there are no outstanding requests.
The library is using Chromebooks, which are laptops built exclusively to access the internet; they come loaded with Microsoft Office. The library has rolled out 100 at nine library locations, and will roll out an additional 1,125 in April at 20 locations.
The Chromebooks are funded through a grant from the Texas State Library and Archive Commission and are specified for neighborhoods with the greatest digital divide. The laptops were purchased with a CARES grant to help deal with the challenges of COVID-19.
A 2016 survey found that more than 42 percent of Dallas residents did not have an internet connection in their homes. In 2020, Dallas Public Library began checking out hotspots, but those were only available on your cellphone.
DART D2 downtown route
Dallas Area Rapid Transit is asking the Dallas City Council to make a decision on which route they prefer for D-2, the second rail route that's being proposed for downtown Dallas, to relieve congestion from the single route that runs through downtown now.
A decision needs to be made by March 24 in order to get $800 million in federal funding.
The decision is complicated by a popular proposal to remove I-345. If that happens, the replacement could be moved underground, which is where the D2 would also be located, so they'd be competing for the same space.
No more Belo
The parent company of the Dallas Morning News is seeking to change its name from A.H. Belo Corp. to distance itself from its founder, Alfred Horatio Belo, who was a Confederate Colonel in the Civil War. New name: DallasNews Corporation. They'll ask shareholders to approve the name change in May.
That's not the only Belo in town: There is also Belo Garden Park, located near the old newspaper building downtown; and the Belo Mansion, a banquet venue on Ross Avenue that's currently owned by the Dallas Bar Foundation.
The name change provides a positive distraction from the company's reported loss of $6.9 million for the year, as well as its plan to initiate a reverse stock split, which companies do to try and boost their stock price. The newspaper has a total of 48,903 digital subscribers.