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Eggs & Issues: Commuting in South Dallas

DIANE XAVIER | 4/17/2015, 4:37 a.m.
With a focus on improving the commuting experience for residents in South Dallas, the most recent Eggs & Issues forum ...
Sen. Royce West hosts Eggs & Issues. The Dallas Examiner file photo

The Dallas Examiner

With a focus on improving the commuting experience for residents in South Dallas, the most recent Eggs & Issues forum highlighted the Trinity Corridor Project and the Southern Gateway Projects, two proposed road projects that will ease traffic in the area. State Sen. Royce West, District 23, hosted the community forum at the University of North Texas Dallas on March 21.

The Trinity Parkway would be a toll road that is part of the Trinity Corridor Project while the Southern Gateway Project has plans to redesign sections of I-35E and U.S. Highway 67 in order to add capacity and improve traffic flow.

Members of the North Central Council of Government, the Texas Department of Transportation and the North Texas Tollway Authority, along with West, spoke.

Michelle Raglon, public information officer for TxDOT, said TxDOT participates in forums on transportation issues several times a year.

“The purpose of TxDOT at the recent Eggs & Issues forum was to talk about transportation in Southern Dallas County,” Raglon said. “There are several projects we are working on now and several proposed projects we are presenting to the public. Anytime we have an opportunity to inform and educate the public about road projects, we are happy to go out and participate. There are a lot of projects in the planning stages and we want to get input from the community about these.”

Part of the Trinity Parkway’s projection plans include relieving traffic in and around Downtown Dallas by connecting I-35E to U.S. 175. It would have a new nine-mile relief route close to the west and south sides of Dallas’ central business district. The Trinity Parkway would also provide traffic relief to Downtown Dallas with a six-lane, tolled bypass, which would help the I-30 and I-35E corridors, according to NTTA.

The total cost for the Trinity Parkway is $1.3 billion dollars.

“The Trinity Parkway Project has been in the planning and environmental phase of the study for more than 15 years,” said Elizabeth Mow with the NTTA. “The NTTA along with TxDOT and the city of Dallas has been working closely with the Federal Highway Administration as well as the Army Corps of Engineers to advance the Trinity Parkway as well as the flood way project through the environmental process. We are currently awaiting two decisions from the FEDS, which are the parkway and the floodway. The Federal Highway Administration is reviewing the environmental document for the final environmental impact statement for the parkway and we expect their decision later this spring. The second decision we are awaiting is from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They are currently reviewing a second document for the floodway project that includes the parkway and the planned lakes and amenities. Without their decision and reviews, neither project moves forward.”

The Southern Gateway Project would cover I-35E from IH20 to Eighth Street and U.S. Highway 67 from FM1382 to I-35E.

The goal of this project is to increase the capacity of the roads, allowing more commuter traffic and reducing traffic congestion. The design includes improving mobility with additional general-purpose capacity, getting rid of design deficiencies, and improving system linkages. It would have a reversible HOV in center median, slip ramps, direct connect ramps and frontage roads. It would also provide fully directional interchanges at I-20 for I-35E and US 67.

The Southern Gateway Project would also take the Regional Managed Lane approach. This is also known as express lanes or TEXpress lanes, which are tolled lanes that offer another option to the single occupant vehicle use. The total cost for the Southern Gateway Managed Lanes Project would be $470 million dollars and the full reconstruction projects of I-35E and U.S. 67 south of the split estimated cost would be $1.53 billion dollars.

Construction is set to begin in fall 2016.

Some of the concerns people had were the cost of tolls and how poor people would be able to afford the addition of more toll roads in North Texas.

“It is one thing to object to a proposed project, but there is no denying that congestion is a daily fact of life for those who travel on I-30/the Mixmaster and on either I-35E/R. L. Thornton Freeway or U.S. Highway 67, particularly during morning and evening peak traffic periods,” West said.