on September 12, 2022 / by Dylan Thomas / in Blog Posts, Economic Development and Planning

Highway Overhaul Could Reconnect Downtown, Deep Ellum

At Play: The proposed reconstruction of Interstate 345 on the east side of Downtown is a transformational opportunity to reconnect the Central Business District to Deep Ellum, as long as it prioritizes multiple modes of transportation with a focus on pedestrians, bikes, and scooters, and frequent transit service between the two neighborhoods.

The Backstory: In May 2022, after a year of study and review of the feasibility of its five original design options, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) presented a “Refined Hybrid” design scenario to replace the current I-345 structure. This scenario buries the freeway in a trench (similar to US-75/Central Expressway north of Downtown) with at-grade streets and bridges, providing opportunities for decking caps, parks, or commercial development. 

DDI’s Take: The DDI Mobility Committee, led by DDI Board Member Alan Zreet, FAIA, of Jacobs, reviewed the Refined Hybrid design scenario and provided specific recommendations on which TxDOT should focus as the agency moves into advanced design phases. The Committee’s feedback concentrated on restitching the urban fabric between Downtown and Deep Ellum through enhanced pedestrian amenities, multimodal connections, and improved mobility – all prescribed in our strategic 360 Plan.

If done right, the I-345 redo has the potential to meet elements of all three transformative strategies outlined in DDI’s strategic 360 Plan: Advance Urban Mobility, Build Complete Neighborhoods, and Promote Great Placemaking. DDI will continue to work with TxDOT and partners to ensure these elements are a key focus of the next phases of design.

What’s Next: The Dallas City Council will vote on the Refined Hybrid design later this year. If approved, TxDOT anticipates breaking ground on the new structure in 2028.

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