The Texas Department of Transportation is considering the economic impact of removing one of the major freeways in Downtown Dallas.
Interstate 345 is the highway that divides Deep Ellum from Downtown Dallas and connects Interstate 45 and 30 to North Central Expressway.
Most people don't know I-345 by name. On the freeway, it's only identified as Highway 75. And while it is one of the most congested roads in the state, some city leaders believe the best solution is getting rid of it.
In the 1970s, having the freeway cut through the middle of Dallas seemed like a good idea. Now, some city leaders think differently.
"Putting highways thru the middle of cities is an incredibly bad idea,” said Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston. "They destroy development and destroy neighborhoods. When you put them in, then no one wants to live near them or work near them because they're ugly."
The councilman believes the solution is to tear it down. TxDOT will get quotes next month to do a study on the impact. It will compare alternatives such as putting it below ground, like North Central Expressway or turning it into a boulevard.
“People who think that going to a surface level boulevard will create more congestion don't understand traffic engineering,” Kingston said. “Every city in the word that has had a major highway tear out — from the Embarcadero in San Francisco to the Central Freeway in Seoul — has seen no increase in traffic, but a huge spike in economic development and vibrancy."
Jeff Fryman owns Brain Dead Brewing in Deep Ellum. He says I-345 creates the perception of a barrier from downtown.
“Right now, it seems like this spooky area with shadows that no one wants to walk down,” Fryman said. “Can you get to downtown? Yeah. But I'd take a car. It's right there. You can walk. But if there is nothing there that makes it seem scary, people will walk there.”
As for where all the traffic will go if the freeway is torn down, urban planners say a lot of the traffic is not going downtown at all but is just trying to pass over downtown. The theory is if I-345 wasn't there, a lot of the traffic would go around the city on Loop 12 or 635.