S.M. Wright Project Phase II under review
DIANE XAVIER | 3/19/2015, 5:47 p.m.
The Dallas Examiner
The city of Dallas and Texas Department of Transportation are working to construct freeway-to-freeway roadway ramps that link Julius Schepps Freeway along Interstate Highway 45 and CF Hawn Freeway along U.S. Highway 175 and convert S.M. Wright Freeway along US 175 to a low-speed arterial roadway.
TxDOT officials have stated that the purpose of this project is to improve mobility and safety of the travelers in this area.
In 2013, state Sen. Royce West and state Rep. Eric Johnson expressed a concern about the safety of S.M. Wright Freeway during a town hall meeting, referring to it as “Dead Man’s Curve” and asking for community input. TxDOT officials discussed its plan for renovating the highway.
“We have been working a long time on this project for the community,” TxDOT Dallas District Engineer Bill Hale said during the meeting. “Phase I is to construct new direct connecting ramps from C. F. Hawn Freeway to I-45, and widen I-45 to the inside from Lamar Street to the S. M. Wright Freeway ramps. Phase II involves reconstructing S.M. Wright from I-45 to Budd Street as a low-speed, landscaped six-lane arterial. We would make S.M. Wright Freeway into a boulevard and this would make it more community friendly. We have the dollars to move this project forward.”
On Sept. 26, 2014, TxDOT announced its plan to begin S.M. Wright Project Phase I reconstruction of the highway to “increase mobility and improve safety by eliminating the US 175 curve just west of Bexar Street onto S.M. Wright Freeway.”
This year, on Feb. 26, it met with South Dallas residents to discuss Phase IIB, reconfiguration of the existing interchange between Interstate 45, S.M. Wright Freeway, Cesar Chavez Boulevard and Good Latimer Expressway. Residents also had an opportunity to express their concerns regarding the project.
According to TxDOT, the neighborhood environment would also be improved by eliminating the sharp curve.
Officials also stated that economic development would be possible with the conversion of the freeway to a 35 mph, six-lane street with signalized intersection and at-grade landscaped arterial with gateways and walkways.
The Phase IIB presentation of the project was presented to the community. The plan included adding a new northbound I-45 exit ramp and a new southbound I-45 entrance ramp to and from Grand Avenue. It would also extend the I-45 frontage roads to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and reconstruct freeway from Pennsylvania Avenue to Cesar Chavez Boulevard at Grand Avenue.
Phase II will cost approximately $70 million and construction would begin in 2017 and finish by 2019, stated Michelle Raglon, TxDOT public information officer.
“The S.M. Wright project has been around for a long time and it’s been back and forth with different plans,” Raglon said. “It’s still in the planning stages and we have two phases. Today, we are looking at Phase IIB. This part really came about because we got input from the community on what they wanted to see in their neighborhood. It’s also a really great time because TxDOT is coming back to the community and working with the community and trying to make it whole again. A lot of the roads are not going to be elevated. It’s going to be low arterial roads that go 50 mph at the most.”