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If you missed part one, click here.  Overall, the documents and scenarios CityMAP put together are logical and straight-forward.  Most call for the submersion of key highways surrounding Dallas’ core aiding in traffic flow and neighborhood revitalization.

One calls for the rerouting of I-30 to the distant south and one calls for the removal of a portion of I-45 and US-75.  I’m all for the submersion and covering of these highways.  I’m faaaaaar from convinced on these other two.

Are you HIGH?

What happens to 45/75 traffic when it's partially removed. Everything scatters before returning to the highway.

What happens to 45/75 traffic when it’s partially removed. Everything scatters before returning to the highway.

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CityMAP main graphic 1

Last night I attended the first public roundup for the CityMAP project.  Haven’t heard of it?  Well, neither had I until 72 hours ago.  Turns out it’s a framework for traffic mitigation and neighborhood revitalization that’s been put together for the past 15 months based on input from people who know about traffic and neighboring residents.  So far, it’s unlike the crony-driven Preston Center plan.  CityMAP is based more on research than avarice.

And … oh my … is there research.  There’s a 15-page summary for the kiddies or the 351-page doorstop for the minutia-driven.

Guess what I read?  Yup.  Both.  What can I say, I need more fiber in my diet.

Before I get too far in, don’t expect a bloodbath from me.  There’s only one plan component that I question and just one scenario I think is totally doolally … but it’s the internet, so I have to tease you into reading more.

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SamsCityplace

Interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal (sub req.) on Sunday raised a sacreligious question: are the billions we are spending on light rail really worth it, especially real-estate wise? Los Angeles and other auto-heavy Sunbelt cities such as Phoenix, Denver and Charlotte, N.C., are building out expensive light rail systems costing billions of dollars, funded by sales taxes and federal dollars. Urban experts tell us light rail encourages dense development, helps unclog traffic arteries, and boosts real estate values and development at station points. And of course, it’s so green.

In fact,

A 2014 study of the Phoenix area’s light-rail system co-written by Arizona State University professor Michael Kuby showed an increase in residential and commercial property values after the system was introduced, extending more than a mile from stations.

But not so in Charlotte, where a 2012 study of property values near the light-rail system stations there produced a “mixed bag of results.” Apparently a few high end developers put up some fancy digs near the stations that would have been built anyhow. As for creating a real estate boom, light rail may be like robbing Peter to pay Paul: just pilfers real estate values from another part of the city:

Randal O’Toole, a transportation and land use expert for the conservative Cato Institute, said he believes local governments are investing in light rail only “because the federal government is offering money for it.” If proximity to transit lines does boost property values, “it does so at the expense of values somewhere else in the same city or urban area,” he said.

Of course, we have a DART station on Central Expressway at CityPlace. And what do we have across from it? A big box Sam’s Club. Yeah, don’t get me started. Haskell is becoming a whole new world. But no, we couldn’t have some mixed-use something with housing, developer went for the quick buck. (more…)

It took years for the Oak Cliff Streetcar route to go from a dream to reality. Rail expert Hayley Enoch breaks down the long process of how new mass transit comes on line.

It took years for the Oak Cliff Streetcar route to go from a dream to reality. Rail expert Hayley Enoch breaks down the long process of how new mass transit comes on line.

By Hayley Enoch
Special Contributor

[Editor’s note: The now free Dallas Festival of Ideas kicks off tomorrow and runs through Saturday, with speakers and panels focusing on the future of our city. One subject that comes up time and again is the need for walkable cities and more accessible mass transit. To facilitate that discussion, we asked rail journalist Hayley Enoch to break down the long process of how mass transit ideas become reality.]

Dallas-area residents don’t have to travel too far from their driveways to see that our local highway system has not kept up with demand. One hour drive times, even for small errands, have created a population eager to invest in light rail, streetcars, and other forms of public transportation.

Despite the demand, new public transportation projects and expansions to the existing system have been slow to materialize. This gives ammunition to those who call for wider highways and more toll roads, and believe that public transportation cannot efficiently serve Dallas-area residents. However, what makes expanding the system to keep up with demand difficult isn’t so much that civic planners are unaware of the need for additional capacity, but that there is a  complex pre-planning process that must be carried out before any new construction can begin. A better understanding of the process could help residents of Dallas-Fort Worth plan for our transportation future.

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Austin and Michael 2

Guest Post by Austin Rucker, a Realtor with Dallas-based Von Buren and Associates

Back in 1904, the city of Dallas had about 72 miles of electric streetcar lines worth around 32 million dollars. In today’s dollars, that is $804 million or $11 million per mile of track. In fact, the first streetcar opened in spring of 1873 from the courthouse down Main Street to the Houston & Texas Central Railway Station. In 1940, the fare was seven cents.

McKinney Avenue is named for Collin McKinney, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence and the man credited with suggesting that all Texas counties be made 30 mile square, so you could travel to the county seat and get back home all in one day. McKinney Avenue was the road that was used to get to the town of McKinney. The streetcars are the first modern transit option the city ever had. Rail has left it’s mark in Dallas: Pacific Avenue is named for the eponymous company whose rail ran through our downtown.

The current MATA (McKinney Avenue Transit Authority) line was put together using only $28 million from TxDOT, and soon will have one of the original streetcars from the original line that was sold to GE and Goodyear. The line was disbanded in 1956 to make room for a bus route that never happened.

Tourists visiting Dallas love our trolleys. (more…)

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Once upon a time, people rode trolleys in the cities. It was a quick, efficient way to get around. The power source? Horse hoofs.

The first urban light rail system was simply a relatively small, boxy car pulled by horses over rails imbedded into the street. The first system of this type began operations in New York City in 1832 (two years before Brooklyn, across the river, was incorporated into a city itself). The horsecar was much more efficient than the coaches then in use. Running along rails eliminated most of the friction, allowing horses to pull a much greater load with a lot less effort. Soon horsecar lines criss crossed the City of New York. The rapidly growing City of Brooklyn began its own series of lines in 1854.

Next someone attached a car to a constantly running cable underground. The Cable Car was born, and was larger, faster, and less polluting than horses.

Next came the electric generator and motor technology. In 1888 Richmond, Virginia became the first city to successfully electrify a streetcar line, and Brooklyn followed shortly thereafter. Electric streetcars soon replaced the cable cars and, of course, the horselines. Electric streetcars were tagged the ‘trolley’ after its original electronic pick-up devise, called a trawler. Soon whole centers of activity developed around trolley stations.

What would change all that would be, of course, the automobile with some old-fashioned political meddling:

Beginning in the 1920’s, however, the trolley companies (all privately owned) began to face a number of problems. This was a time of expanding automobile ownership and increasing automobile traffic. Furthermore, local governments were becoming increasingly hostile to trolley operators. Track repairs were often hindered by demands on transit companies to also repair adjoining streets; simultaneously, municipalities made additional claims on their revenues. In New York the nickel fare was mandated despite inflationary trends, making once profitable trolley lines (and subway and elevated lines) into money losing propositions. Of course, shortly after the city took over transit operations, the fare was raised.

 

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Gabriel Barbier-Mueller

Bleu Ciel, designed by HDF, LLC and Jean-Michel Wilmotte.

Since we first heard the news, Bleu Ciel has made a big impression on us. From the design to the prices, we have to admit that this 33-story condo building is going to have a big impact on the Harwood area. The tower will include two- and three-bedroom homes from 1,300 square feet to more than 7,000, with prices starting at $805,000.

But if you want to know more about this building, which is primed to become a landmark in the area, you can enter to win a pair of tickets to the first exclusive “Beyond the Bricks and Mortar” speaker event featuring our publisher and editrix Candace Evans. This is an invitation-only event that will host some of the most influential Dallasites and real estate professionals, so you don’t want to miss out.

Jump to find out how to win!

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Gables Park 17

We know the sad story of how young Kendra Hatcher was gunned down in the parking lot of Gables Park 17 in September likely involved someone who targeted the vivacious dentist over a love triangle or sick jealousy. We know that woman is still at large, somewhere south of the border. But Gables residents had been complaining about crime (break-ins, car thefts) for months BEFORE the murder.  The parking garage “arm gate” offers little security to the parking garage — drivers can piggyback in through it, and most condos have steel or mesh gates that go up and down. Residents complain the guards posted at the entrance to the parking garage (after the murder) are unarmed and usually dozing, talking on the phone or on a break.

Now the site Apartment Ratings has given Gables Park 17 a bad wrap, saying “don’t look here unless you want to experience crime, corruption and ghetto management”... WOW!

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