Dallas City Council approves plan allowing TxDOT to begin engineering plan for I-345

Dallas City Council members unanimously approved a plan that will allow TxDOT to begin the engineering phase for rebuilding Interstate 345 in a trench. 

I-345 is a short but critical north-south stretch of freeway in Downtown Dallas that connects U.S. Highway 75 and Interstate 45. 

Several Dallas City Council members have concerns about the decades-long impact of building I-345 in a trench, but they all agreed to sign off on the plan after an amendment was proposed that will allow the city to still change course in the future.

"I live in Old East Dallas. I urge you to reconsider," one person said.

With the elevated Interstate 345 nearing the end of its lifespan, some people have tried to generate support for about a decade for removing it altogether and moving the traffic to a network of boulevards.

"A city with green principles can't be car dependent," one person said.

That boulevard approach was one proposal. Another would have kept the elevated highway intact.

The third option, recommended by TxDOT, puts the highway below grade, with overpass access.


TxDOT gives recommendation on what to do with I-345

The plan would put the now elevated interstate in a trench, creating room for deck parks and current streets to run on top of it.

But instead of locking the city in completely, Dallas City Councilman Omar Narvaez proposed adding an "out" clause. 

"This motion takes us into next phase to get design accurate and right," he said.

It's a clause reluctantly supported by Councilman Chad West, who was the biggest proponent for the boulevard approach. 

"It's not perfect, but at the end of the day, if we support this, TxDOT and the city have decided to take down a highway and put something better in its place," West said.

Councilwoman Jaynie Schultz said the council has to be realistic. 

"TxDOT has said, unequivocally, that they will not sell us the land or allow this option to move forward. As frustrating as this is, we must now make lemonade," Schultz said.

While TxDot is not paying to build decks over I-345, the agency will design it with room for those plans, if and when the city finds funding. 

Michael Morris, who is transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, said I-345 is critical to the rapid growth in the region.

"I don't know where the capacity of more economic development will come from when the street is being used for a lot of through movement of traffic that used to be on the freeway," he explained

"Traffic studies show removing I-345 would increase commute times 30-50% in peak periods. The time of Southern Dallas residents is just as valuable as those who live elsewhere," Dallas City Councilman Jaime Resendez said.