Citizens propose alternate designs for Southern Gateway Project

MIKE McGEE | 5/8/2015, 3:39 p.m.
The concept for the Southern Gateway Project is to widen and improve I-35E from IH20 to Eighth Street and U.S. ...
Proposed Southern Gateway design Photo courtesy of the Citizens Task Force

The Dallas Examiner

The concept for the Southern Gateway Project is to widen and improve I-35E from IH20 to Eighth Street and U.S. Highway 67 from FM1382 to I-35E in order to decrease traffic congestion. Yet as the established plan gets more exposure and public feedback, a local group has designed a competing plan of its own.

The Citizens Task Force hopes to persuade the Texas Department of Transportation to take a serious look at alternative ideas the group has for the project.

Paul Carden, a finance major at UNT Dallas, is the chairman of the CTF. Carden said he specializes in commercial real estate and infrastructure; with such an interest as his field of study the chairman noted that the TxDOT plan he saw gave him pause.

“I live in the Oak Cliff area,” he explained. “I saw proposals coming out [and] I was like, we can do better than this.’

The TxDOT Priority Projects website provides an outline of their plan as well as informational graphics, all delineating how traffic problems will be decreased with the plan’s implementation. The website lists some specifics of the layout in an overview of the plan.

“Reconstruct and widen 19 miles of Interstate 35E to include additional main lanes and reversible HOV/managed lanes from I-20 to Eighth Street; reconstruct and widen 11 miles of U.S. 67 to include additional main lines and reversible HOV/managed lanes from FM 1382 to I-35E,” reads the description of the proposal.

Materials provided by Carden’s organization recommends significant differences from the online TxDOT plan. Most notably is the lack of toll and HOV lanes. Also, while the TxDOT concept maintains the current grade roadway, the CTF prefers a lower, below-grade roadway, similar to the layout of I-75.

“TxDOT’s plan currently involves, essentially, building it relatively wide and cheap and it takes up a very large amount of right-of-way, which requires the demolition of several business and homes within the core of Oak Cliff,” Carden voiced.

He pointed out that the CTF plan could mitigate some of the destruction with the below-grade design. The task force also has an idea about using the roadway’s design to improve the various neighborhoods of Oak Cliff. The chairman believes what worked for Woodall Rodgers Freeway would also work for Oak Cliff.

“… Using the Klyde Warren Park model of decking over Interstate 35 between Beckley and Marsalis to reunite the eastern and western halves of Oak Cliff.”

Conceptual images of the CTF gateway plan depict a plaza-like atmosphere complete with city park amenities and cafes.

“We don’t see it so much as asking for additional things; we’re simply asking to fix things that the communities used to have prior to the highway’s construction,” Carden offered.

The CTF proposal contains 15 additions or changes not listed on the TxDOT Priority Projects website. Suggested CTF gateway features include acoustic walls a minimum of eight feet high to dampen the highway noise around residential neighborhoods; fewer, but longer, highway entry and exit lanes and ramps similar to the way Central Expressway is constructed; multiple pedestrian crossovers at many of the Oak Cliff neighborhoods are also sought by the group.