The tunnel is proposed to path underneath near north Dallas, under the high-income enclaves of Highland Park and University Park.
texasfreeway.com commentary: I would be very surprised if this project moves forward. It will be fabulous if it does
move forward, but I'm not
getting excited yet. I think this project would tie in nicely with the
I-635 deep bore tunnel, since both projects could use the same boring machine.
The first article below reports that residents oppose the tunnels. A typical case
of NIMBYISM, although I don't know if NIMBY really applies to a tunnel 100
feet underground. The good news is that the political officials seem to be
in favor of it, so I don't see the opposition as being a problem. The real
problem will be to make it work financially.
15-March-2001: The tunnel project is being recommended for further study by NCTCG, including
extending it eastward all the way to IH-635, and potentially southward to IH-30.
See the map at the 15-March-2001 edition of the intelligence report.
Residents oppose tollway under Mockingbird Lane
would link U.S. 75, Highway 183
By Lee Zethraus and Gromer Jeffers Jr. / The Dallas Morning News
A proposed toll tunnel under Mockingbird Lane got a cool reception Monday evening from Park Cities residents.
A standing-room-only crowd of about 130 people turned out to hear plans for a six-lane tollway that would connect North Central Expressway and State Highway 183 through portions of University Park, Highland Park and the city of Dallas. Many had concerns.
"I don't want a tunnel built under my house," said Jane Wigginton, who lives in the 3600 block of Mockingbird Lane. "I don't know another way to say it. In a lot of places it's not a big deal to tunnel underground. Here it's a big deal. Thinking of having people drive under my house at all hours creeps me out."
A Highland Park citizens advisory committee requested the presentation, which was open to the
public. The committee was recently formed to study the project and its possible effects on
Earlier Monday, The Texas Turnpike Corporation, which is proposing the $800 million
privately funded project, presented plans to the Dallas City Council transportation committee.
John Crew, president of the private toll road development corporation, asked members of the
committee to consider joining the two Park Cities to form the Central Dallas Joint
Transportation Authority. The authority would oversee construction and operation of the tunnel.
Mr. Crew told the committee that the cities would not assume any risk in the project.
Mr. Crew said 63 investors would put up $5 million for a feasibility study. An $800 million
tax-exempt revenue bond issue would follow the study. The bonds would mature in 40 years.
The investors would receive an $18 million up-front payment and $6 million annually over 40 years.
Dallas council member Laura Miller, though, wondered why the investors and the
Turnpike Corporation were needed at all. She suggested that the cities develop the
project and keep the profits, if it is feasible.
"Why do we need you guys?" Ms. Miller asked. "Why don't the cities just do it themselves?"
The transportation committee was also concerned that Dallas' financial advisor,
First Southwest Company, is an investor in the project. The committee directed Mr. Crew to
answer a number of questions about the project, provide a list of investors and make
available projected maintenance costs for the tunnel.
The transportation committee seemed to favor the concept of a Mockingbird Tunnel.
"I don't think there is any greater traffic problem than trying to go east to west," said council member Lois Finkelman. "I don't see this happening overnight, but I look forward to long-term discussions."
At the evening presentation, Mr. Crew emphasized the need for such a thoroughfare.
"In theory this should help the whole region," said Mr. Crew. "I think this would be a lot better than cramming all those cars on Mockingbird."
The area around Mockingbird and Central Expressway has recently seen an increase in traffic with the return of home games at Southern Methodist University as well as increasing construction near the Mockingbird DART station. The stretch of Mockingbird between Hillcrest Avenue and Preston Road also sees nearly 27,000 cars a day, according to Texas Turnpike Corporation data.
According to plans, the 6.5-mile project includes a 5-mile tunnel, which would be about 100 feet below ground from North Central Expressway to Harry Hines Boulevard. About two miles of the tunnel would run under Mockingbird Lane in Highland Park and a small stretch under the eastern border of University Park. In Dallas, the tunnel would run underground west of the North Dallas Tollway to Harry Hines Boulevard, where lanes would return to street level and continue to State Highway 183.
Dallas, Park Cities officials to hear about toll tunnel today
By Lee Zethraus / The Dallas Morning News
Dallas and Park Cities officials will hear more about a proposed toll tunnel under Mockingbird Lane in two presentations Monday.
The proposed six-lane tollway would connect North Central Expressway and State Highway 183 through portions of University Park,
Highland Park and Dallas.
Texas Turnpike Corp. which is proposing the $800 million project, will present plans to the Dallas City Council transportation
committee at 10:30 a.m. Monday at City Hall. A second presentation will be made for a Highland Park residents advisory
committee at 5 p.m. at Highland Park Town Hall. Both meetings are open to the public.
Texas Turnpike Corp. has raised $5 million from investors to study its feasibility, said John Crew, president of the private corporation.
"Our main concern is getting through the transportation committee before we meet with citizens and homeowners groups," said Lorraine Good,
vice president of Texas Turnpike Corp. "We do plan on meeting with groups to address public concerns and answer questions. Our first presentations will be a general overview of the project."
According to plans, the 6.5-mile project includes a five-mile tunnel, which would be about 100 feet underground from
North Central Expressway to Harry Hines Boulevard. About two miles of the tunnel would run under Mockingbird Lane in Highland Park and a small stretch under the eastern border of University Park. In Dallas, the tunnel would run underground west of the Dallas North Tollway to Harry Hines Boulevard, where lanes would return to street level and continue to State Highway 183. Exits along the route would be at North Central Expressway, Love Field, Interstate 35E and State Highway 183.
Jill Jordan, an assistant city manager for Dallas, said the city would have a better feel for the project after the committee meets.
"It's very preliminary," Ms. Jordan said. "It is ambitious because it involves three cities. They [the turnpike corporation] would have to coordinate with the Texas Department of Transportation to make the connections. Anytime you have a large public works project, it's ambitious."
Ms. Jordan said that if an agreement could be reached, the Texas Turnpike Corp. could begin engineering and developing a traffic model to determine whether there would be sufficient traffic to pay for it.
No toll amount has been discussed.
"We've told the [corporation] to count on doing neighborhood meetings to get feedback," she said.
A recently formed Mockingbird Lane Citizens Advisory Committee invited the corporation to make the afternoon presentation
so residents could learn more about the project. The 11-member committee, which is made up of Highland Park
residents and homeowners along Mockingbird Lane, formed to study the proposal and its possible effects on Highland Park.
"This is an important, serious matter that involves a lot of money and a lot of homes," said Wade Smith,
chairman of the committee and a former Highland Park mayor. "I think we would all like to hear more about it."