At yesterday’s community meeting hosted by Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates, the plan seemed to strike a chord with residents who have been adamant that single-family neighborhoods shouldn’t be subject to additional development, commercial or multi-family. Some neighbors’ concerns about ever-increasing traffic may have been quelled, too, because the plan includes several options to reduce congestion.
But the success of the project is completely dependent on how — and who — is willing to fund it. Here are three things you need to know about the task force’s final plan.
1.) The City of Dallas, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the North Texas Tollway Authority would have to collaborate for road improvements along the Northwest Highway/Dallas North Tollway interchange.
The task force recommends constructing a Texas U-turn on the south side of Northwest Highway and redesigning the highway’s exit off the Tollway so that it’s possible to make a right turn on Sherry and Luther lanes. But we don’t know whether the tollway authority and TxDOT would be willing to fund such an extensive project, much less if the city even would contribute.
“We had to assume… that everyone (TxDOT etc.) would be working to get here as those issues come up,” task force member Pete Kline said. “You have to make that assumption if you’re going to make a plan.”
Other traffic improvements include building exit ramps along southbound North Dallas Tollway at Walnut Hill and Lovers Lane and deactivating the traffic light near Dallas Fire Station No. 27 when emergency vehicles aren’t active. And, perhaps, the most ambitious project of all is constructing an underground tunnel near Northwest Highway. The North Texas Council of Governments agreed to fund the tunnel study, but the length and location still has not been made clear.
2.) Some of the funding for the Preston Center development could come from the 2017 capital bond program, but even that’s uncertain.
According to Gates, if the proposed bond program is passed, $35 will be allotted for road construction and $4 million can be used for other projects in each district. That’s assuming, though, that those funds won’t be allocated to the Police and Fire Pension Fund, something Gates says is a possibility considering the fact that Dallas has been criticized about its pension fund by state lawmakers.
3.) If funds to replace the Preston Center parking garage aren’t established within two years, the garage just will be replaced.
Many consider the current garage an eyesore, so the task force suggests replacing it with an underground parking garage topped with a park, much like Klyde Warren Park. According to the report, there is “great potential for the creation of public-private partnerships to build and maintain the park and the garage,” similar to how the $110-million Klyde Warren was built downtown. However, if a private funding source cannot be found within two years, the report states that the current garage should instead be expanded and upgraded.
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