The Dallas City Council has given the thumbs up to tear a controversial freeway down.

After years of debate, the city council voted on May 24 to tear down I-345, the quarter-mile elevated highway strip that runs between downtown Dallas and Deep Ellum.

The council approved a "hybrid" option that will replace the elevated highway with a highway buried in a trench. The approval gives the Texas Department of Tranportation permission to pursue federal funds for the project, which would replace the 10-lane elevated highway with a 10-lane trench, plus multiple ramps and exits.

TxDOT already has a transfixing video showing what it would look like.

However, the council also inserted stipulations calling for further study into other options before construction begins, as well as an amendment stating that the city reserved the right to withdraw its support.

The project has been complicated by the fact that highway is owned by the state, but is on city land.

Some city council members wanted to postpone the vote and do more study but did not have a majority; the vote to support TxDOT's hybrid plan was unanimous.

For Coalition For a New Dallas, a group that's been advocating to tear down I-345, the vote moves the conversation in a positive direction, one they'll nudge towards another plan in which the elevated freeway would be replaced by a street-side boulevard.

"Our movement enters an exciting new phase now that consensus for removal for the elevated highway has been politically achieved: building city-wide support for what should replace it," a statement from the group says.

"Fortunately, several grassroots groups and community champions have stepped up in recent years and are leading the advocacy in an exciting direction," their statement says.

They'll be doing a demo of a bridge.

Big Dallas freeway closure at 635 and Greenville Avenue coming up

Traffic News

There's a major freeway closure coming up in North Dallas this weekend on I-635: All lanes along eastbound and westbound I-635 at Greenville Avenue will be closed beginning Saturday evening, May 20 through Sunday morning, May 21.

It's major because it's in both directions, east and west. Both directions: major.

This will involve overnight closure of all I-635 mainlanes and overpass bridge.

Drivers will be detoured to the frontage road to access the next available entrance ramp onto the mainlanes.

Both directions of Greenville Avenue at I-635, northbound and southbound, will also be closed. Drivers will be detoured through alternate streets that include Forest Lane, Abrams Road, Walnut Street, and Greenville Avenue.

During this time the following closures will also be performed:

  • US-75 entrance ramp to eastbound I-635 - Drivers will follow posted detours leading to the frontage road.
  • All lanes along eastbound I-635 TEXpress Lanes at Coit Road - Drivers will be required to exit from the TEXpress lanes to the general purpose lanes at Coit.
  • All lanes along Markville Drive at Greenville Avenue - Drivers will have access along the I-635 frontage road.Drivers should expect delays, seek alternate routes or plan for extra travel time.

All scheduled work and closures are subject to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

The closures are part of the 635 East Project, an 11-mile project to improve mobility, operations, and safety on Interstate 635 in Dallas County. Construction includes the addition of a mainlane in each direction, building continuous frontage roads along the corridor and reconstruction of the interchange at I-635 and I-30.

Construction began in early 2020 with an anticipated completion date of late 2024. People of Garland, Mesquite, Lake Highlands, and Casa View, we are almost through this thing! Keep the faith!

For more information, visit www.635east.comAff

635 LBJ FreewayAffected areas at intersection of LBJ Freeway and Greenville Avenue.635 East


American Airlines signs new lease at DFW Airport with plans for new terminal

Airport News

Fort Worth-based American Airlines has signed on for another 10 years at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). According to a release, the airline and the airport have signed a new 10-year Use and Lease Agreement, which includes $4.8 billion in pre-approved capital investments.

The Use and Lease Agreement is the main governing document between the airlines and the airport and establishes the Airport’s business model. The new Use and Lease Agreement replaces the 2010 agreement and maintains many of the same arrangements as the prior version.

Capital investments include:

  • the construction of Terminal F
  • the renovation of Terminal C
  • construction of gate expansions at Terminal A and Terminal C
  • other modernization projects

The lease signing, which marks a new era of growth and innovation, was overseen by a gathering of and comments from the key personages: Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker, Dallas Mayor Eric L. Johnson, American Airlines CEO Robert Isom, and DFW Airport CEO Sean Donohue.

"American is proud to call North Texas home, and DFW is our largest hub and a central gateway to our extensive international and domestic network," Isom said in a statement. "American has led the growth that has propelled DFW to become the second busiest airport in the world and we are thrilled to finalize a new lease agreement and capital plan that sets the stage for American, DFW, and the North Texas region to continue to grow for years to come."

"The Use and Lease Agreement not only creates a predictable and equitable business model for DFW Airport, but it also underscores the commitment of the airport and our airline partners to provide passengers with the best possible travel experience," Donohue said.

The Use and Lease Agreement outlines major capital projects over the next 10 years. The most significant projects include:

Terminal C. An estimated $2.72 billion for the expansion of the Central Terminal Area, including a major reimagining of Terminal C, gate expansions extending from Terminal A and Terminal C, and significant upgrades to roadways and terminal access.

Terminal F. An estimated $1.63 billion for the construction of a new Terminal F, featuring a 15-gate concourse.

The terminal expansions will add 24 gates to prepare American and DFW for long-term growth. At the completion of construction, American will add new gates in the Terminal A and Terminal C piers to its operating portfolio.

The new agreement will allow American and DFW to work together on additional capital projects throughout the term of the lease.

Approximately 85 percent of passenger traffic at DFW is customers of American Airlines, with about two-thirds of American’s customers connecting through DFW to access the airline’s global network.

American’s creation of a “connection factory” provides access to more than 240 nonstop destinations out of DFW operated by American. DFW is also home to several of American’s alliance partners.

North Texas is home to nearly 35,000 American Airlines employees, at the airport and on American’s 300-acre Robert L. Crandall Campus in Fort Worth, where American recently opened its 600-room Skyview 6 Hospitality Complex, which hosts team members visiting for training.

Courtesy photo

Dallas' Deep Ellum gets an unexpected new amenity: valet parking

Deep Ellum News

Dallas' once-grungy Deep Ellum entertainment district will now offer what is surely an unanticipated new amenity: valet parking.

The valet service will be open on Thursdays-Sundays beginning May 11, and is not connected with any one business, ergo, it's open to anyone visiting Deep Ellum who doesn't want to park their own car.

The service is one in a series of new measures introduced by the Deep Ellum Foundation (DEF) to ease access and walkability for visitors to the area's 100-plus restaurants, bars, breweries, nightclubs, shops, apartments, offices, and hotels.

The valet stand will be located at 2625 Commerce St., between Twisted Root and DOT's Hop House, and is the result of a partnership between DEF, the 501c3 that advocates for the neighborhood, and the owner of the parking lot, says DEF executive director Stephanie Hudiburg.

"This has been a priority we've been trying to do for a few years," Hudiburg says. "Originally, we were trying to find a way to do it on the public right of way, by using metered parking on the streets. But the parking lot owner is working with us to offer a program that serves the entire district, right in heart of district."

The lot is the large plot that stretches across a block from Commerce Street to Main, making it accessible to pedestrians from both streets.

"This particular lot is owned by a property owner who also owns retail, bars, and restaurants, and wanted to offer a holistic customer experience that benefits other businesses as well," she says. (FYI, it's Asana Partners.)

The valet stand will be in operation Thursdays-Fridays from 6 pm-1 am, and Saturdays-Sundays from 1 pm-1 am. At launch, it will cost $25, although there are hints that the price may increase down the road.

The valet is one part of a larger program to make it easier for people who want to visit Deep Ellum, Hudiburg says.

Other parts of the program include:

  • closing down the main streets on weekend nights to pedestrian traffic only, from 10 pm-3 am
  • new bicycle corrals on Main Street, and a new bicycle pump installed at 2626 Main St. in front of the Patagonia store
  • freshly painted crosswalks, at the intersections of Main & Crowdus, Elm & Crowdus, and Elm & Good Latimer Expressway

There are also 1,000 new parking spaces, and a new/additional dropoff spot in the neighborhood's Rideshare Flow Zones, a program it introduced in 2019 modeled after DFW Airport in which zones have been designated as drop-off/pickup rideshare zones for visitors coming via services such as Uber and Lyft.

The zones are 1 to 2 blocks away from core activity in Deep Ellum, with the goal of improving traffic flow and emergency vehicle access in the area, and are in play during the busiest nights and weekends.

The new zone is at 2551 Elm St., in front of Elm & Good at the Pittman Hotel and will launch on May 12.

It joins the five existing rideshare drop off/pick up zones:

  • Good Latimer Expressway northbound between Main & Commerce
  • Commerce Street eastbound between Crowdus & Malcolm X Boulevard
  • Pryor Street southbound between Main & Commerce AND extended zone on Commerce between Pryor & Henry
  • Malcolm X Boulevard northbound between Indiana & Junius
  • Swiss Avenue westbound between N. Hawkins & Good Latimer Expressway

The Deep Ellum Foundation has created an entire page dedicated to getting around the neighborhood with charts and maps and such, rendered in a pleasing purple-teal-chartreuse color scheme.


Self-driving rideshare company cruises its robotaxies into Dallas

Hi-Tech News

A new driverless ridehail service is coming to Dallas-Fort Worth: Cruise, the all-electric, driverless car company backed by GM, is expanding in Texas with launches in both Dallas and Houston.

This follows an initial launch in Austin in 2022, their first city in Texas.

Cruise builds and operates driverless vehicles that you can call via an app, like any other ride hailing service. "But our vehicles show up without anyone else inside," they say.

The entire fleet is all-electric and the vehicles are equipped with a 360-view, with the ability to react to whatever they encounter on the road.

They test their vehicles using simulations, through millions of scenarios and virtual miles; they’ve also driven more than 4 million real miles, mostly in San Francisco.

They have not defined what the cost will be but according to The Verge, the rates in San Francisco vary depending on length of trip and time of day: "A customer taking a 1.3-mile trip would pay 90 cents per mile and 40 cents per minute, in addition to a $5 base fee and 1.5 percent city tax, for a total of $8.72." By comparison, an Uber ride for the same trip would cost at least $10.41.

The company was founded in 2013 and vehicles began to hit the road in 2022. They operate a total fleet of roughly 300 all-electric AVs, powered 100 percent by renewable energy. In addition to Austin, they operate in San Francisco and Phoenix, where they've completed 35,000 self-driving deliveries in a partnership with Walmart.

According to a statement from CEO Kyle Vogt, they'll begin supervised driving (with a safety driver behind the wheel) in Houston as they finetune their AI technology to understand the nuances and unique elements of the city, with Dallas to follow shortly after.

In a blog post, Vogt says their cars drive the speed limit and come to a complete stop at every stop sign. They respond to police sirens, flashing lights on fire trucks or ambulances, and stop signs that fold out of school buses.

They react to people on scooters, people using bike lanes, and cars driving on the wrong side of the road. "In short, they are designed to drive safely by obeying the law and driving in a humanlike way," he says. Actually, that sounds better than humans.

When vehicles encounter a situation where they aren’t 100 percent sure of what to do, they slow down or stop and pull over to the side of the road. This has caused some bumps in San Francisco where cars stopped and idled in the street for no apparent reason, delaying bus riders and disrupting the work of firefighters.

Some of the "bumps" have been comical, such as the 2022 incident in which a confused San Francisco police officer pulled a Cruise over, and then the Cruise drove away.

And as Reuters notes, autonomous vehicles have not rolled out as fast as anticipated, due to regulations, safety investigations, and arduous technology.

When Cruise first enters a city, they hire a mapping and data collection team to learn bike lanes, school zones, and major intersections. But most of the time, the vehicles will be carrying riders in the back seat, or completely empty and en route to another pickup.

The company partners with first responders, including police and fire departments, to ensure they’re ready and familiar with how to interact with the vehicles, engaging with those agencies before and after launch.

"Our guiding mission has always been to improve road safety, reduce emissions, and reduce congestion with our driverless ride-hail service in cities, which is where we’ll see the most significant positive impact the soonest," Vogt says. "Houston and Dallas are committed to reducing traffic deaths as part of their Vision Zero commitments, and we are excited to operate in and partner with these new communities in this shared mission."

Interstate 30 will eventually be widened and modernized.

TxDOT shares latest phase of plan to widen I-30 on east side of Dallas

Highway News

The Texas Department of Transportation is deploying the next phase of its plan to widen I-30 on the east side of downtown Dallas, running through Mesquite to Lake Ray Hubbard.

The project consists of approximately 12 miles from Ferguson Road to Bass Pro Drive, and will affect Dallas, Mesquite, and Garland.

The proposed project would have:

  • six to 12 main lanes (three to six travel lanes in each direction) varying throughout the project limits
  • zero to two reversible managed lanes
  • two to three frontage road lanes in each direction

It would also include a 10-foot shared use path along both sides of I-30 for bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, ranging in width from 300 to 450 feet.

Additional right-of-way and easements would be required, and two non-residential structures are anticipated to be displaced.

TxDOT has scheduled virtual and in-person meetings this month to advise the public of their plans.

The in-person open house meeting is on April 27 at 5:30 pm at the Mesquite Arts Center, 1527 N Galloway Ave. in Mesquite.

The virtual public meeting will be posted on Thursday, April 27 through Friday, May 12. The materials can be viewed at any point during that period.

The project is part of TxDOT's I-30 corridor expansion project, which also entails new frontage road bridges across Lake Ray Hubbard from Bass Pro Drive to Dalrock Road, and the rebuilding of the Dalrock Road interchange.

Future projects will widen I-30 and add continuous frontage roads throughout Rockwall County. The work is part of TxDOT's Texas Clear Lanes effort to relieve congestion, a statement that they make with no irony whatsoever.

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Top Dallas chef re-emerges at upscale Mexican pop-up at West Village

Chef News

There's culinary action brewing in Dallas' West Village with an award-winning chef turning out some amazing Mexican food. It's a new restaurant pop-up called Mexican Test Kitchen, located at 3699 McKinney Ave. #307, and it stars Matt McCallister, one of Dallas' most high-profile chefs.

Mexican Test Kitchen is the working title for a new concept in the works between McCallister and restaurateur Mike Karns, who recently took ownership of the West Village. It occupies the space that was previously Honest Tacos (and before that, Taco Diner); Honest Taco closed in April.

For now, they are doing a pop-up, with a menu that McCallister has designed, featuring tacos, bowls, and salads, plus inventive margaritas.

"I didn't want to see the West Village get hurt with the closure of a restaurant, so we mobilized our team and opened Mexican Test Kitchen as a pop-up," Karns says.

Their plan is to be open this summer with an interim menu of dishes they are developing, while they reconcept and redesign the space.

"It'll still be Mexican but leaning a little more healthy than Tex-Mex — more like healthy Mex, with a lower price point and a little more casual," Karns says. "We feel like it will bring some energy to West Village."

McCallister is now working with Karns' Local Favorite Restaurants group (El Fenix, Snuffer's, Meso Maya, Taqueria La Ventana, Tulum, Village Burger Bar, Jalisco Norte, Twisted Root) full time. He joined following the untimely closure of Homewood, the award-winning restaurant on Oak Lawn Avenue.

"When Homewood closed, I reached out to Matt," Karns says. "He works with us now as well as Alex Urrunaga (Plan B Group, Reach Restaurants)."

That team will help create their fun new concept. Karns says they'll close the pop-up in late August, then re-open in September after the remodel is complete.

"Mike is a super cool guy, it's kinda crazy I get to work for him," McCallister says. "At the end of the day I just want to contribute my slice of the pie to Mike's vision for the company."

Those craving McCallister flavors can meanwhile enjoy the current pop-up menu featuring:

  • Citrus pig with citrus-braised carnitas, griddled onions, pineapple, cotija cheese, & mint
  • Brisket, barbacoa style with rajas, blistered corn, & chipotle mayo
  • Asada Steak with cilantro, caramelized onion, peanut salsa macha
  • Grilled chicken with smoky chipotle marinade, chiles toreados
  • Habanero lime shrimp with pickled red onion & watermelon radish
  • Tempura cod with Mexican tartar sauce, & green cabbage crunch
  • Griddled Came, with sweet potato, goat cheese, toasted pepita sprinkle, charred green onions
  • Mexican mushroom with caramelized creminis, maitakes, trumpets, & oyster mushrooms, griddled onion, cilantro, & watermelon radish

Chips & queso feature a pale whipped queso fresco with peanut salsa macha and pumpkin seed crunch. Guacamole comes topped with pomegranate and toasted pistachio.

Salads and bowls include a beautiful ensalada rossa with wild arugula & matchstick beets; a “shades of green” salad with hearty greens, spinach, tri-color quinoa, crispy chickpeas, avocado, roasted corn, cried cranberries, & green Carognola olives; and a Ranchero bowl with black beans, white rice, sweet potato, marinated beets, crispy Brussels sprouts, Mexican kimchee, hearty greens, & mojo.

If all that's not enough, everything's crazy-cheap: Tacos come in at $4-5, and salads and bowls at $12.

Chicago Italian restaurant Quartino readies for Texas debut at The Colony

Italian Restaurant News

A new Italian concept from Chicago is coming to Dallas-Fort Worth: Quartino Ristorante and Wine Bar, a Chicago-based authentic Italian neighborhood restaurant, pizzeria, and wine bar, is making its Texas debut with a location in the Grotto District of Grandscape, in The Colony.

According to a release, it'll open June 19.

Quartino will occupy two levels of indoor and outdoor bar and dining room seating. A red-toned brick exterior with awnings gives the space a relaxed yet refined vibe.

Quartino features an approachable menu of Italian shared plates that feature regional specialties, like artisanal salumi, housemade cheeses, Neapolitan-style pizza, handmade pasta, Aquerello risotto, and seafood.

The bar program includes an expansive, value-driven wine list highlighting family-owned, small-production wines available by the quartino (quarter liter), mezzo (half-liter), litro (liter) and bottle; plus craft cocktails, negronis, and house-made limoncello.

Quartino is part of Gibsons Restaurant Group, which also owns and operates American brands like Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse and Gibsons Italia in Chicago and The Boathouse at Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida.

GRG chose to expand into Texas because of the area’s promising future. This is the first Quartino to open since the original opened in 2005. It is the latest location for GRG, one of the highest-grossing independent restaurant groups in the nation.

Quartino's General Manager, Erick Starke, recently relocated his family from Chicago to The Colony. He says, “Quartino selected The Colony as its first home in Texas because of its friendly people, incomparable growth, culture, and diversity. Our goal is to serve up southern hospitality Italian style and create an unforgettable experience for our customers."

Customers can make dining reservations at www.quartinoristorante.com.

GRG founder Steve Lombardo says that customer satisfaction is at the heart of every GRG restaurant.

“Quartino is known for its commitment to the highest quality, authentic Italian food and wine, a lively dining experience, and putting the customer first, and we are excited to bring this experience to North Texas," Lombardo said.

Quartino is located at 5754 Grandscape Blvd, The Colony, TX 75056, directly behind and across the street from Andretti Indoor Karting and Games, and next to Thirsty Lion.


About Quartino:
Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar first opened in December 2005 by Gibsons Restaurant Group and founding chef John Coletta in Chicago’s vibrant and bustling River North neighborhood. Quartino is the recipient of the coveted Ospitalita Italiana, which is awarded by the Italian government and recognizes restaurants that uphold the traditions of Italian culture. In 2022, Thrillist named Quartino as one of the Best Italian restaurants in Chicago. Quartino is on Open Table’s 2019 list of the 100 Best Restaurants in America for a Big Night Out. In 2018, Quartino was named one of the world’s 70 best restaurants with a pizzeria by Ristorazione Italiana Magazine. Always festive and welcoming with two spacious levels and outdoor seating, Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar is open daily for lunch and dinner.

Brooke Shields to headline trailblazing Dallas nonprofit's big fall fundraiser

More than a pretty face

Model, actress, and author Brooke Shields will deliver the keynote address at the 2023 Trailblazer Awards Luncheon on September 29 at the Hilton Anatole. The annual fundraiser - one of Dallas' most anticipated luncheons of fall - benefits The Family Place, Texas’ largest family violence service agency marking its 45th year.

Lindsay Jacaman and Holly Krug will serve as luncheon co-chairs, with philanthropists and former Real Housewives of Dallas stars Stephanie and Travis Hollman as honorary chairs, the organization announced on June 6.

"We hope attendees will be inspired by our featured speaker Brooke Shields as she shares her unique story and her personal resilience that led her to become the role model she is today," says The Family Place CEO Mimi Sterling in a release. "Through the collective efforts of our co-chairs and honorary chairs, we know we will raise important funds to serve women, men and children in need of safety."

Shields, who turned 58 on May 31, has made headlines recently as the topic of a critically acclaimed new docu-series about her life. Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, released in April on Hulu, examines her journey "from a sexualized young girl to a Princeton graduate, mother, and advocate who has embraced her identity and voice," Hulu says.

Shields famously started her career as a child star, becoming - at age 14 - the youngest fashion model ever to grace on the cover of Vogue. In addition to garnering awards as an actress onscreen, Shields is now a best-selling author and creator of an apparel and accessories line called Brooke Shields Timeless.

The wife and mother of two teen daughters is also, the release notes, "an advocate for women and the arts and serves on the board of WIN, an organization dedicated to providing housing, services and programs to homeless women and children in New York City."

The Trailblazer Awards Luncheon is The Family Place's biggest annual fundraiser. Proceeds will help further the nonprofit's mission to empower survivors of family violence by providing safe housing, counseling, and skills that create independence, organizers say.

The event will include a VIP reception, seated luncheon, and recognition of this year’s Texas Trailblazer Award recipient (not yet announced). Tickets start at $350 are available on The Family Place's website.

Family Place Luncheon 2023, Brooke Shields

Courtesy photo

Brooke Shields will headline the Trailblazer Awards Luncheon on September 29.