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LBJ Express Is Coming

Submitted by on August 30, 2011 – 8:55 pm7 Comments

also known as the LBJ freeway

In case you haven’t heard the Texas Department of Transportation and various other agencies are working together to construct  a monster upgrade to parts of I-635 (aka LBJ freeway) and I-35 that will take place over the next five years or so.   The project is called the LBJ Express.

Named for the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson, construction on LBJ began in 1959. It has the current dubious distinction of being one of the most congested freeways in north America.

I told you we were number one.

The High Five Interchange, where I-635 and US 75, is likely one of the most traveled freeway intersections on Earth evidenced by the 500,000 cars and trucks that roll through there  each day.  Fortunately I don’t have to travel on I-635 very often.

the High Five interchange where I-635 and US 75 intersect. Wowzer.

The 2.7 billion dollar project will begin on I-35 near Walnut Hill.  From there it will head north to I-635, and then east all the way to US 75.  The project calls for a combination of additional lanes, upper and lower decks, HOV lanes, tollways and more. From their website:

  • Nearly double the capacity on LBJ Freeway
  • Retain and rebuild same number of current freeway lanes
  • Add up to six new express managed toll lanes on I-635 and four on I-35
  • Accommodate future population growth for next three decades
  • Enable drivers to select freeway lanes for short or non-urgent trips
  • Guarantee fast 50 mph trip on LBJ Express managed toll lanes
  • Deliver real-time traffic information to help drivers make smart decisions

This is the sort of architectural undertaking that urban and transportation engineers dream of participating in.  I have a few concerns.

When you watch the video below you can see they put very little effort into easing the viewers mind that this is going to be one giant, paved eye sore as there is hardly any greenery in future rendition of the completed project. Maybe that was just an oversight.

I’m not exactly a tree hugger but I’m disturbed when I see trees and such being plowed under in the name of “progress”, especially when there are other options.  I’ve been watching some of the construction now and seeing the mature oaks that they have been tearing down has been unsettling to say the least.

According to their FAQ they will be replacing any trees that they tear down with new ones.  I’ll bet a shiny quarter that some of the 50 year old trees they are removing will be replaced with tiny little sprouts.  I hope I’m wrong.  My question is why are they not transplanting these mature trees instead of simply removing the.  It’s not rocket science. Look at this 75 year old tree that was transplanted in Lake Highlands:

Transplanting trees is not rocket science, they do this all the time

No doubt there are people in Dallas with big wallets would pay crazy money for some of the mature oaks that they’ve been tearing down to make way for the additional lanes.  Oh well…Speaking of aesthetics…

They did a nice job painting the High Five with subtle earth tones and not leaving it a hideous and stark white concrete.  Let’s hope they plan to do the same or even something that looks nicer.  Seriously, 16 lanes (0r more) of concrete is not going to be a pretty sight, so let’s hope they do something to make it aesthetically pleasing.

Downtown Dallas is a testament to bad taste with it’s nondescript buildings of concrete and glass which exhibit all the charm of a federal penal institution.  There are many examples where landscaping design and the plants chosen were exceptional, parts of this can be seen along the western portions of the George Bush Turnpike.  So hopefully good minds are thinking about how to make this look appealing.

Each day we  there are literally millions of  cars and trucks driving on Dallas highways and there is no social or economic advantage to those highways being congested and unable to handle the volume of traffic.  I just hope they make the greenery and the environment a priority, and not an after thought.  Their FAQ suggests they will, they are clearly saying all the right things but I want to see more because so far all I am seeing are these magnificent, mature trees being destroyed instead of being transplanted.  That doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy nor does it inspire confidence.

And speaking of biking, bike lanes are not included though they plan to preserve the White Rock Creek trail, which goes under I-635. That section of the trail could see temporary closures due to construction.

On to the videos…The music in the first video is a bit Orwellian, in a soothing way.  You feel like you’re being hypnotized as you listen and watch.

widened highways are progress…progress is good…love is progress…

Ha ha.  I thought it was funny.  The music in the second video reminds me of 80s porn.

Anyhow, ready or not here comes the LBJ Express, just another super mega zilla highway that you might see, if you’re Biking in Dallas.


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Chris started riding a bike again when he noticed the Preston Ridge Trail being constructed across the street from his house. Since then he co-founded Biking in Dallas, has gone through countless Craigslist bike projects (some better than others) and can be found pedaling around town on a Electra Ticino with a camera in tow.

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