Neighbors fight proposed ‘barrier’ between Oak Cliff and Trinity River park

Tomorrow morning, City Council will be briefed on a new alignment proposal for Beckley and Commerce, which would change Beckley from a two-lane road to an-eight-lane where it intersects with Commerce. The proposal is slated for next week’s City Council agenda, but if nearby neighbors and the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group have anything to say about it, the proposal — which the group has known about only a couple of days — will not move forward.

"The plan is all about a temporary solution to siphon vehicles off of I-30 while TxDOT works on the mix-master," local activist and Fort Worth Avenue TIF District chair Randall White wrote in an e-mail to neighbors. "Unfortunately, this ‘temporary traffic volume/through-way solution’ will create a permanent impact for residents and businesses for years to come.

"If this ‘improvements’ plan passes, Beckley will become a wider, speeding vehicle barricade of concrete that will allow the Trinity Project to turn its back on North Oak Cliff residents and West side visitors. The plan dramatically impacts neighbor-friendly economic development with decisions that are all about moving vehicles through and past North Oak Cliff … not about moving people to and from the park. … This is a bad idea that has tried to skulk in under the radar because of delays and funding deadlines."
Today I spoke with Katherine Homan, who lives in East Kessler Park and is the chairman of her neighborhood’s steering committee on the Trinity gateway project. She summed it up this way: The I-30 bridge crossing the Trinity, which will become one of the Trinity River Corridor Project’s signature Calatrava bridges, will be widened to 16-lanes. This widened roadway will lead traffic into the narrow "canyon" of the mix-master, where I-30 is six-lanes across at most. However, before TxDOT can commence its bridge widening work,  "this project is going to need reliever roads," Homan says.

Since Beckley is the last exit before entering the mix-master, "that exit is going to be a bail-out exit," Homan says. "At face value, it’s practical to widen Beckley to accomodate the bail-out traffic," but she chimed in with White saying that the realignment will be "a permanent solution to a temporary problem … this road will not go away, and it will be one of the biggest barriers between us and the Trinity park."

Today, the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group’s president, Scott Griggs, sent this letter to Councilman Dave Neumann, who chairs the Trinity River Corridor Project committee. The letter advocates for "complete streets" (which are not car-centric but also pedestrian friendly), points out the ways in which the realignment proposal does not mesh with the planned development district that governs the area (mostly in ways that are unfriendly to pedestrians), and proposes a solution that would involve looking at the entire picture — everything from land use to alternative transportation, like streetcars and bicycles — instead of a "piecemeal" approach.

When the Trinity tollroad was proposed, neighbors specifically campaigned for it to be on the downtown side so that Oak Cliff residents wouldn’t be cut off from the park, Homan says. But if this alignment is approved, "we won’t need the tollroad — we’ll have Beckley," she says.

Click here to see the current and proposed alignments of Beckley and Commerce, here to look over the city’s realignment proposal, and here to read Scott Griggs’s letter.


WANT MORE?
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Oak Cliff.
Written By
More from Keri Mitchell

Neumann explains why he voted for smoking ban

Neighbors’ feedback shaped Councilman Dave Neumann‘s decision to vote for a smoking...
Read More
  • David

    The current plan by the city, if implemented, would truly be a disaster for residents of Oak Cliff and West Dallas. Once again, it appears the city believes if we “stick it over there” (like the auto pound, like the lead smelters), no one will notice or care.

    More important, it is unconscionable that the city staff has tried to ramrod this plan forward without making the slightest effort whatsoever to include the area stakeholders in the process. The Fort Worth Avenue Development Group a few weeks back, I’m told, made several suggestions that would make the intersection less of a barrier and all of those suggestions were roundly ignored by city staff.

    Katherine Homan and Randall White are right that this would be worse than having the tollway on the Oak Cliff side of the levess as this will be OUTSIDE the levees. Big-name developers who’ve purchased much land adjacent to the intersection are privately seething at city staff.

    If major concessions aren’t made soon by the city, it will be a huge clarion to people in Oak Cliff and West Dallas that: A) the city still views these ‘hoods as a dumping ground for what would never be allowed in North Dallas; B) the city has no respect for rational citizen input and involvement; C) Dallas would rather be like Phoenix or Houston (sprawl and car-focused) than world-class destinations like Paris, Sydney or Portland (compact and hike/bike/mass transit focused).

    Oh, the developers are chewing nails right now…