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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McKinney trolley Trio

With the announcement of more frequent stops and later hours on the Downtown/OakCliff streetcar, once the extension is complete this summer, some Uptown residents are setting their sites even higher up the road.

Austin Rucker, Michael Motorcycle and Siobhan Winfrey want to see more trolley action, extending the McKinney Avenue Trolley to run around its original track up and around Cole Avenue.

Knox Henderson, they say, is getting more crowded by the second minute with even more density coming down the pike — like a 22 story apartment building. The area will soon be loaded with cars clamoring for non-existent parking spaces, crowding streets, and ultimately reaching a breaking point. As part of the Dallas “Complete Streets” Initiative, Dallas’s Team Better Block was challenged with demonstrating how to re-engineer a three block stretch of Knox Street from the Katy Trail to McKinney Avenue to be safe for cars, bikes and pedestrians back in 2012.

The area of Knox Street is a classic historic main street in Old North Dallas with early 1900’s era buildings built to the sidewalks and four lane auto dominated streets. Early renderings (see A to C) of the street focused on maintaining the auto-centric nature of the area while including shared bicycle markings and a single bike lane placed in the blind spot of vehicles parked on the South side of the street.

Why not extend the trolley along its original course, making it a trail of Dallas history?

McKinney trolley tracks

Photo: Mike Redeker

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MCKinney Ave Bar

By Grant Bynum
Special Contributor

If you are a native of the Dallas area, you’ve probably heard about how desirable it is to live in the Uptown Dallas area.  When professionals are checking out a move to Dallas, Uptown always gets in the conversation, and typically at the top of the list!  If you are thinking about a move here from out of town, or you are local and want to see what the fuss is about, then read this quick summary of Uptown Dallas. After reading this, you may know more than most natives of Dallas, and even some Uptown residents!

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