TxDOT weighs options for Interstate 345's future

City officials are weighing their options on what to do with a Dallas interstate that separates Deep Ellum from Downtown.

A study will soon get underway to determine if Interstate 345 should be removed. The freeway is the short stretch of elevated highway in between Woodall Rodgers and Interstate 30, connecting North Central Expressway to Interstate 45.

During rush hour on Tuesday, the steady stream of cars along I-345 did not let up. Yet, one option being seriously considered by the Texas Department of Transportation is to replace the stretch of interstate with city streets complete with stoplights. While it may sound shocking, traffic engineers say it could work.

More and more cities are tearing down elevated interstates like I-345.

"Structures have a negative impact where it bifurcates or separates neighborhoods,” said Michael Morris, an engineer with North Central Texas Council of Governments. “Bridges aren't going to last forever. Eventually, the bridge has to be replaced. I would be shocked if we're going to take a bridge and replace it with a bridge.”

TxDOT will consider replacing the interstate with another interstate that is slightly sunk into the ground like North Central Expressway. They could put the interstate underground through a tunnel or could decide to just get rid of it all together and replace it with a network of city streets with stoplights.

The latter option typically generates the question of what happens to all of the cars? To help, two Dallas loops are being widened.

“Rerouting trucks and cars to the south around on 635 and around on Loop 12 is already part of the system of improvements that will be in place,” Morris explained.

But taking I-635 or Loop 12 is a pretty big detour for drivers not headed downtown. Even advocates of getting rid of the freeway admit people passing through Dallas may be inconvenienced.

There is no need to start mapping out alternate routes already. Any changes are years down the line.