Photos: A commuter’s perspective on Sylvan Avenue traffic

Traffic backs up on Sylvan at Interstate 30 during rush hour. Photo courtesy of Sandy Bates Emmons

Traffic backs up on Sylvan at Interstate 30 during rush hour. Photo courtesy of Sandy Bates Emmons

When Sandy Bates Emmons of Wynnewood North heard of plans to take Sylvan Avenue from six lanes to four, she started documenting her commute on that road.

A screenshot from a traffic app shows delays in every direction near Kessler Park. Courtesy of Sandy Bates Emmons

A screenshot from a traffic app shows delays in every direction near Kessler Park. Courtesy of Sandy Bates Emmons

Emmons says traffic already is bad on Sylvan at rush hour, and taking away two lanes just makes it worse.

Most evenings, her traffic app shows nothing but red from West Dallas to Kessler Park. Among her biggest pet peeves for Sylvan, however, is the “Private Drive” stoplight for Sylvan Thirty.

It is “very poorly placed in a short block between multiple congested avenues and freeways,” she says. “I can count on my fingers how many times I have actually seen a car exiting or entering on that private drive, yet it affects thousands of other cars on a daily basis.”

With new residential developments coming fast and furious to Oak Cliff, and with a continued lack of jobs here, commuter traffic will become unbearable, she says.

“We are all going to be prisoners soon because more gridlock is coming when you put more vehicles on poorly planned and poorly maintained roads,” she says.

More photos:

Traffic backs up on Sylvan at Fort Worth Avenue during the evening rush hour. Photo courtesy of Sandy Bates Emmons

Traffic backs up on Sylvan at Fort Worth Avenue during the evening rush hour. Photo courtesy of Sandy Bates Emmons

Motorists try to skirt rush hour traffic on Sylvan by taking Kessler Parkway. Photo courtesy of Sandy Bates Emmons

Motorists try to skirt rush hour traffic on Sylvan by taking Kessler Parkway. Photo courtesy of Sandy Bates Emmons

A line of rush hour traffic near the Belmont Hotel at dusk: Photo courtesy of Sandy Bates Emmons

A line of rush hour traffic near the Belmont Hotel at dusk: Photo courtesy of Sandy Bates Emmons

Traffic backs up on Sylvan Avenue during the morning commute. Photo courtesy of Sandy Bates Emmons

Traffic backs up on Sylvan Avenue during the morning commute. Photo courtesy of Sandy Bates Emmons

By |2015-06-11T11:44:32-05:00June 11th, 2015|News, Transportation|30 Comments

About the Author:

Rachel Stone is the Oak Cliff editor. Email rstone@advocatemag.com or follow twitter.com/advocate_oc.                                     


  1. Bob Dobbins June 15, 2015 at 12:08 PM

    The Horseshoe project is coming people. You will think of this as the “Good Ol’ Days” till about 2018.

  2. Andrew Hudson June 13, 2015 at 1:01 AM

    None of the businesses, landlords or residents on the Jefferson end of the Tyler-Polk couplet were told about the two way conversion. A friend saw an item in the Advocate that my street was being changed to a two way, so my wife and I went to the first meeting that we had heard about.

    There were 6 or so of us neighborhood folks there, along with some Bishop Arts investors and we were told it was a done deal. We were a little stunned as we thought this was a preliminary meeting. We left the meeting a little unsure what had happened. Why were we being given a $3 million solution to a problem we didn’t know we had?

    My wife and I started researching two way conversions and eventually concluded that the two way conversion is inappropiate for our street.. we totally agree that the traffic needs slowing but our street lacks sufficient commercial density to benefit from the change. Additionally, the majority of businesses and residents at this end of Tyler are opposed to the plan.

    The next meeting was at a neighbors studio… unbeknownst to him a meeting was hastily scheduled to discuss the two way plan. The neighbor is a super a cool person and was happy to facilitate the meeting that drew around 30 or so neighbors and business owners. The major theme became parking… it is precious and essential for the businesses.

    Next meeting was a charette. Full blown presentation. All the city guys and a handful of consultants spent tons of money selling us on the conversion. Roughly 70 stakeholders. Again parking took the forefront and several other lesser issues fell by the wayside.

    At least now I’m being told the city’s working on the parking. I am optimistic about the striping farther north on Sylvan and am hoping the city might reconsider the two way scenario in favor of striping similar to what’s happening north of Davis on Sylvan.

    As far as ego goes, I am an artist. I believe posting on a public forum is an egotistical act. What is it that makes one believe others want to know what they think?

    I think people want to know what the hell is going on and I’m doing my best to inform them about something that will impact thousands of people a day… none of whom are being consulted or informed. They too are stakeholders.

  3. LarryECollins June 12, 2015 at 2:30 PM

    This will only get worse as the Oak Cliff Renaissance continues and more people move back there. You have EVERY RIGHT to complain about the traffic! There has never been an adequate plan transportation or street plan for Oak Cliff. And with the current and anticipated growth it needs to be dealt with. The last thing needed are NARROW streets! A plan is needed NOW before it gets worse and people DO start moving OUT of Oak Cliff.

    MILLIONS of people in the North Texas area live a long way from where they work. Those people saying “just move” are either retired or stupid.

  4. Sandy Bates Emmons June 12, 2015 at 12:10 PM

    For those of you who keep telling me and others to move- I live in Elmwood “The Heart of Oak Cliff” . It’s our neighborhood’s tag line. I do not understand why people keep saying I live close to a freeway (I do not). I could say the same for those who live along one of Oak Cliff’s main THOROUGHFARES. How would you like it if you were told…if you don’t like living on S. Tyler of Sylvan “just move” , you knew the thoroughfare was there when you moved there. But, I would never say something like that because I know there are many reasons for living somewhere and that is not a good answer. But for those who need to see a definition of what Sylvan is:

    Full Definition of THOROUGHFARE
    : a way or place for passage: as a: a street open at both ends b: a main road
    a: passage, transit b: the conditions necessary for passing through

  5. Michael Dilger June 12, 2015 at 12:06 PM

    The safety and the quality of life for the residents of a community should always trump those who simply want to travel through it as quickly as possible.

  6. Michael Dilger June 12, 2015 at 12:00 PM


  7. person June 12, 2015 at 9:36 AM

    The homeowners along Sylvan combined with BFOC/OC urban planner types pushed it through.

  8. Andrew Hudson June 11, 2015 at 9:50 PM

    Yes, the attempt to improve commercial viability is the pretense to congesting the traffic. But there are numerous associated problems that have not gained traction with the public or the city. Among them is pollution. I noticed you mentioned the view of a commuter… if your home is in the middle of this area, then your air quality will be degraded. Also Tyler is predominately residential, two churches, two schools and a hi-rise with 180 apartments for the elderly, or those most affected by pollution! Residents are rarely considered. My neighborhood has been reviving nicely, with minimal input from the city. As far as the Advocate is concerned, the article written on the Tyler-Polk two way issue was abysmal. Important issues were brushed aside and some neighbors were misquoted while others were totally ignored.

  9. jojopuppyfish June 11, 2015 at 8:14 PM

    1) Build more mix use neighborhoods. Condos with retail
    2) Make the neighborhood walkable and bikeable.

    3) You’re way behind Texas

    Read Suburban Nation


  10. Charlie hustle June 11, 2015 at 7:36 PM

    So you have multiple options for your commute to Addison/plano/frisco 30 miles away, including an interstate highway near your house and another you drive under, yet the people that actually live/work near this area should bend to your will and not make the street safer for them to walk/bike in their own neighborhood so you can continue to use the same commuting patern you always have, even though it might be the least efficient. Gotcha! Ironic that Andrew says the people behind these decisions are the ones with the egos.

  11. Wynnewood June 11, 2015 at 7:10 PM

    I live next to I-35 & S. Polk. I-35 on the east side and S. Polk on the west side. There are number of problems trying to get out of Oak Cliff to go anywhere at rush hour even on weekends. I-35 has been a nightmare since the Horseshoe started at almost anytime or hour so I occasionally use Polk. My commute route is Clarendon into the Cedars which is not bad if you go early (before 6:30 a.m.) most days. That route gets me to the downtown area and then I can access I-30 and the other freeways. It is not as busy and moves with the speed of traffic lights (when they are working).
    However, the ultimate solution is not too build more roads but build alternative transportation including rail and bus rapid transit. Hampton is actually busier than Sylvan because it carries a lot of commuter traffic from Duncanville and points south. Cities that chose not to join DART. You might try Westmoreland and see if that is faster route or consider changing the time you leave for work.
    I am just not sure who asked the city to remove a lane on Sylvan. Was there a public meeting about this?

  12. cindy jones June 11, 2015 at 7:00 PM

    Do not mention wreck.

  13. cindy June 11, 2015 at 6:58 PM

    Yes, forgot about Vernon. I don’t speed down Sylvan, can’t speak for others. I don’t have issues with the lane removal. I do take issue with the photos in the story, the lead photo and Kessler PKWY cutlines do mention the wreck at the intersection. Safety is important. If this method works and is less expensive then that would seem to be to efficient choice. Aren’t they trying to enhance for the retail around there?

  14. Steve Porter June 11, 2015 at 6:44 PM

    Yeah, it’s a mess.So is Hampton.

  15. Andrew Hudson June 11, 2015 at 6:16 PM

    Where Duncanville stops and other suburbs begin is irrelavant to my point. Actually the route includes S. Vernon Ave if you want to get technical. Polk> Vernon>Tyler>Sylvan>Wycliff does run south all the way to W. Danieldale and north to Stemmons. It is 6 lanes two way the vast majority of the way (it narrows for the railroad north of W. Commerce) but my point is why is my neighborhood’s safety of such concern all of a sudden? 7 years is a long time, but I have lived on S. Tyler for 23 and the 900 block of N. Clinton for 14 years preceding that. I’m familiar with the neighborhood.

    I have no problem with slowing you and thousands of others down. I just believe there are many ways to do that without spending millions of dollars. The striping on Sylvan, north of Davis may be a good solution and if so, why wouldn’t that work south of Davis, instead of changing Tyler-Polk to two ways?

  16. Cindy Jones June 11, 2015 at 5:59 PM

    Actually, not pals with Jason. Friend on FB, but I don’t really know him.
    I do believe that we should make choices that are smart and considerate of those generations that come behind us.
    I am living closer to work so that I am using less fuel, less wear and tear on less concrete and my vehicle, and have a reduced stress level because I am not sitting in a car for hours each day.
    My family moved to Oak Cliff for a better quality of life which includes a shorter commute time.
    The example I provided was my personal experience and choice, it has worked for us. “Something you might consider” is in no way asking thousands of Oak Cliff homeowners to sell, it was simply a suggestion since you seem quite unhappy with “takes almost 30 minutes just to go 8 miles to get out of Oak Cliff, then
    another 30 to 45 minutes to go up the tollway because it is backed up
    from lemmon to Walnust Hill daily and vice versa.”
    I am quite in touch with where I live, thank you for assuming otherwise. Most folks who live South of the Trinity have to drive North because that is where the jobs are, unfortunately.

  17. Sandy Bates Emmons June 11, 2015 at 5:39 PM

    Wow, just wow! I bet you are pals with Jason Roberts and others who have the audacity to say something like that. Are you really asking THOUSANDS of Oak Cliff homeowners to sell our current homes and move closer to their jobs. This really does show how out of touch some are with the location they live in. There are many, many neighborhoods in Oak Cliff , not just a chosen few. These photos clearly show that the majority of the population who reside in Oak Cliff do not work in Oak Cliff.

  18. Cindy Jones June 11, 2015 at 5:37 PM

    The cutlines should reflect the actual situation. The information is misleading.

  19. Sandy Bates Emmons June 11, 2015 at 5:31 PM

    I explained to the Advocate that this was a series of photos taken over the last few months. Different times, different days, with and without new bike/parking lanes.

  20. Dad Joiner June 11, 2015 at 5:29 PM

    Traffic is bad at rush hour? Did a dog also bite a man?

  21. Cindy Jones June 11, 2015 at 5:22 PM

    I moved closer to my job location to help alleviate my commute time. Something you might consider as it is not fun, a good use of time, or good for the environment to sit in traffic.

  22. Cindy Jones June 11, 2015 at 5:18 PM

    Yes, you read correctly. I no longer live in Duncanville. I now live in Lake Cliff and have for 11/2 years. I do not typically cut through Kessler Parkway. That morning all the major streets through Oak Cliff were a mess as I had taken my child to school and had to divert many times from my normal path.

    The story written is about the lane removal creating horrendous traffic and the evidence presented (the photos) are a bit misleading based on my personal experience.

  23. Sandy Bates Emmons June 11, 2015 at 4:17 PM

    You can clearly see the bike/parking lanes in the morning commute picture and also the morning commute picture when it was three lanes. They are interchangeable when you see the result. TRAFFIC backed up. It just proves that problems have not been resolved by removing a heavily used lane, adding useless stop lights, increasing the population density etc…

  24. Sandy Bates Emmons June 11, 2015 at 4:13 PM

    Please make it absolutely clear that you live in the Kessler Park area now, not in Duncanville. At least, that’s how I read it if it says you only go from Colorado now. So I’m sure diverting flow through traffic through your neighborhood increases your property values etc…

  25. Sandy Bates Emmons June 11, 2015 at 4:06 PM

    I failed to mention that it takes almost 30 minutes just to go 8 miles to get out of Oak Cliff, then another 30 to 45 minutes to go up the tollway because it is backed up from lemmon to Walnust Hill daily and vice versa. A couple of light signals does not equate to 6 or 10 cycles plus.

  26. Margaret June 11, 2015 at 3:51 PM

    I am so glad I am not the only one!!!!! I kept asking myself “what “genius” came up with this stupid idea?” They took a lane away on Fort Worth ave too!

  27. Cindy Jones June 11, 2015 at 3:27 PM

    Tyler-Polk does not go from Duncanville to the Stemmons corridor. Duncanville is more South & West.

    I used to live in Duncanville and have driven the Polk>Tyler>Sylvan>Wycliff into Medical District for 7 years. I still drive that path, but now just from Colorado Blvd.

    The traffic around I-30/Sylvan/Fort Worth Avenue going North has increased with the construction for the Horseshoe Project and the build of the Sylvan/30 development. I completely agree the design with the traffic light for the Private Drive coming out of Sylvan/Thirty was very bad placement an prohibits a good flow. It should be removed and more on street parking should be added.

    My experience for 7 years has been that the traffic for the evening commute is a little heavier than in the mornings. It has always backed up from just past the old train bridge before Fort Worth Ave until you pass under I-30. The photos provided for the evening commute example look accurate.

    If you look at the lead morning commute photo, you see it is three lanes, not two. This photo was taken before the lanes were reduced.

    The photos for the morning example look like pictures of the traffic level the Friday morning after the big rain a few weeks ago when there was flooding in Oak Cliff and many street lights were out. There was a wreck at the light of Sylvan/30 going North. I was using Kessler Parkway that morning and it was backed up well into the neighborhood. It did take close to 40 minutes to get through that main intersection over past Fort Worth and Sylvan. All the lanes on Sylvan going North were bumper to bumper. This back up was not due to lane reduction.

    The removal of the lanes has not impacted my commute. My travel time through there ranges from 7:30-8:30am (similar traffic flow) and 4:30-6pm(heavier traffic flow around 5-6).

  28. Chris June 11, 2015 at 2:32 PM

    I’m sorry you have to sit in traffic during rush hour. How will anyone ever survive such a tragic experience. Try making a Dallas to Denton drive at rush hour and then come talk to me. Waiting at the Sylvia/I30 stop light a couple cycles is not that bad and it moves fairly quickly.

  29. Andrew Hudson June 11, 2015 at 1:56 PM

    You shouldn’t have to drive elsewhere! These are our streets. We’ve paid for them and we should control what happens in our neighborhoods, but we don’t. A tiny minority is calling the shots to facilitate a small number of misinformed who believe they can profit from the changes. Only problem is these people will not have to live with their decisions should they not work!

    Just wait until Tyler-Polk get converted to two way streets! You’ll be sitting in calmer traffic there as well. This “calming” is proposed for a small stretch ( less than a mile) of Tyler-Polk which lacks the commercial density of a Bishop Arts District. Tyler-Polk is a 6 lane divided thoroughfare that runs from Duncanville all the way to the Stemmons corridor! What can be so important as to make such crucial changes to this neighborhood? Egos.

  30. Sandy Bates Emmons June 11, 2015 at 10:06 AM

    Thanks for posting, there is only one correction. I live in Elmwood between S. Tyler and S. Hampton ….not sure why we are lumped into Wynewood North which is much closer to I-35. My neighborhood is much more central . Edgefield runs through the center of our neighborhood. I just wanted to clarify that before people start retaliating with “you need to drive elsewhere”. My neighbors and I all use Edgefield, Tyler , Polk and Hampton as main ways to get from North and South.

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