Last updated June 2, 2001
US75 North, Central Expressway
Photos part 2 (12-May-2001),
Photos part 3 (courtesy of TxDOT, 1.2 MB page size)
The reconstruction of US75 north was completed in November 1999. Total reconstruction
cost was around $600 million. The new facility
has a mininum of 8 continuous general-purpose lanes and is in a trench for six miles.
Its architecturally distinctive design distinguishes it as one of the nation's most
attractive urban freeways, but the real accomplishment was actually getting it built.
Building a freeway in a trench on an
extremely narrow right-of-way while keeping the existing freeway open was a challenging
construction task. In some sections, the feeder roads are cantilevered over the main lanes
because of the narrow right-of-way.
The Old Central Expressway
Before reconstruction, US75 north of downtown Dallas was one of the most poorly designed freeways
in the nation. Opened around 1950, it was Dallas' first freeway and had a lot in common with
Los Angeles' first freeway, the Pasedena freeway. The freeway was narrow - six lanes and four lanes.
On-ramps were nearly non-existant. Geometrics were poor. Driving on the old Central
Expressway was like being on a roller coaster going up and down, up and down as the freeway
passed underneath closely-spaced intersections. (Unlike the Pasedena freeway, Central
Expressway was generally straight.)
Worst of all, the right-of-way was extremely narrow, around 180-200 feet for most of the
corridor. The narrow right-of-way and outdated freeway design made it nearly impossible to
In the early 1980's, TxDOT floated plans to build an elevated structure above the existing
freeway. After considerable study and debate, elevated structures were eliminated and it was
decided to put the full length of freeway in a trench. Construction started in 1992, and was
finally completed in November 1999. A new light rail long along the freeway had opened earlier in
Was it worth the wait? Well, it's definitely a nice freeway. But considering how long and
how severely Dallas suffered with the old freeway, I still say it took way to long to
solve the problem. Curiously, it appears that the Pasedena freeway in Los Angeles will be left
in its original state into perpetuity, partially for historic purposes. I can assure you that no one in
Dallas wanted to preserve Central Expressway!
Looking south near Walnut Hill in 1990, a few years before reconstruction began. Image courtesy of the
Houston Chronicle, used by permission.
All photos below taken September 2000
See new photos taken 12-May-2001, at the freeway level.
Freeway-level view, looking south towards downtown Dallas.
Looking north from Yale-SMU Blvd.
Looking south from Yale-SMU Blvd.
Looking south from Mockingbird Lane.
The Air Columns
One of the most distinctive features of the freeway is the pervasive presence of "air
columns" - artistic columns that rise to support nothing but air. Every entrance and
exit ramp is framed by air columns.
A typical entrance ramp.
Viewing the air beams from across the freeway.
Each intersecting street at ground level generally has a distinctive architectural treatment.
Mockingbird Lane over central expressway.
Lovers Lane over central expressway.
Plaque commemorating the completion of segment S2 in September 1998.
The final section (S1) was completed in November 1999.
Photos part 2
Photos part 3 (1.2 MB page size)