Let Me Sum Up
This again? Dallas, building more highways is not the answer
I have been back in Dallas for about a month. I spent the past year before that in Atlanta, a place famous for its horrendous traffic. Living there (just north of downtown, in the area they call Midtown, which is sort of like our Uptown) I saw firsthand how building more highways doesn’t work.
I didn’t drive a car there, so when I walked to the rail station every day, I would cross over a bridge where I could see 16 lanes of traffic on the Downtown Connector heading from and into downtown. Didn’t matter the time, it was always packed — eight lanes coming, eight lanes going.
Atlanta proper is home to about 420,000 people — not much bigger than Arlington. Point being: You can’t build more lanes and think it will solve congestion. If you build it, the cars will eventually come.
Last last week, a DMN news story, subsequent blog posts and a trip up Central Expressway made me remember that daily sight. The paper noted that a nearly $800 million “Horseshoe” road project was soon to begin, one that would add lanes to and reroute the mixmaster into and out of downtown Dallas.
It promised 23 lanes in one spot! More room for the cars currently on it — and for cars to come.
After I emailed the story to local urban planner and designer Patrick Kennedy, he took our email exchange and turned it into a dense but great post on just how futile and asinine this project is. The bottom line? That highways like this leading into and out of the core of a city actually entice people to move further from the core and depress real estate values within it. As he wrote:
Then everybody moves further out, and the roads fill up as more and more people are driving more and further. They're effectively “induced” into it. That's only one half of the equation. The other half is that freeways deflate real estate values along them because they're unsafe, noisy, smelly and disconnective to local movement patterns.
Kennedy cites studies. He gives reasons. But as much as I love the Big Data approach to solving urban problems, I don’t the facts here. I just feel this is a terrible idea.
More roads are not conducive to smart growth. I remember when the new widened Central Expressway opened. I zoomed up and down it faster than ever. Now? It’s clogged every day, into and out of downtown. The Horseshoe will be too.
“The end result is something Dallas will be proud of,” Texas Transportation Commissioner Bill Meadows told the DMN. I know the project won’t be done for more than a decade, but I’ll take that bet.
Rudy Bush had the news over the weekend that councilwoman Ann Margolin will not run for her District 13 seat in 2013. That's bad news for the district and the city.
If you're asked to put money down on which new U.S. legislator will be made to look like an idiot on The Daily Show or The Colbert Report next year, put everything you got on GOP Congressman-elect Roger Williams, a car dealer from Weatherford.
If you missed the bakers' union statement late Friday on the bankruptcy of Irving-based Hostess, please read it. It does a great job refuting the silly idea that this was the union's fault.
Pretty fascinating post by Mark Cuban, in which he explains his problems with Facebook: "IMHO," Cuban writes on his blog, "FB risks screwing up something that is special in our lives as a time waster by thinking they have to make it more engaging and efficient."
No retweets today. But, like last Monday, I'll offer some music. Today: What else?