The Trinity River Corridor Project’s Transportation Improvements

June 9, 2014 by Will Schnier P.E.

The Trinity River Corridor Project’s Transportation Improvements

The massive $2 billion Trinity River Corridor Project (TRCP), in the works since 1998, is transforming 20 miles and 10,000 acres of land along the Trinity River in downtown Dallas. While its primary purpose is a flood protection solution, the project includes other components that will shape Dallas in coming years. One of those is transportation, with improvements proposed in the form of new roads and bridges.

This is the second of a five-part series about the Trinity River Corridor Project. We’ll be featuring a new post on the BIG RED Blog about the Trinity River Corridor Project each week during June.

Click here to read all of our posts about the Trinity River Corridor Project.

In total, the TRCP calls for several new or updated bridges, an intersection upgrade at Beckley Avenue and Commerce Street, a new 8.5-mile toll road named the Trinity Parkway, and the transformation of the S.M. Wright Freeway into a low-speed, landscaped, pedestrian-friendly boulevard.

Of those, a few are already complete. The Sylvan Avenue Bridge just opened its first lanes in April, replacing an older, low water road across the Trinity River with an elevated six-lane bridge. Because the previous Sylvan Avenue crossing had been at grade level, the road became impassible when the Trinity River rose above its banks. The new bridge is above the 800 year elevation level, and also features two six-foot sidewalks on either shoulder as well as a ramp from the road down to the floodway that will give both cars and pedestrians access to the soccer fields and ponds at Trammell Crow Park.

 

The_Margaret_Hunt_Hill_Bridge
Photo courtesy of TrinityRiverCorridorProject.com

The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, which opened in 2012, spans the Trinity River to connect the Woodall Rodgers Freeway with Singleton Boulevard in West Dallas. It is as much an artistic addition to the Dallas skyline as a transportation solution; designed by architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, the cable-stayed bridge rises in a dramatic 40-story arch above the river.

Another series of bridges will be coming online with what’s known as the Horseshoe Project. That roadway, which is currently under construction, is meant to improve traffic flow through downtown Dallas. The project includes the expansion, repaving, and addition of several new bridges along Interstates 30 and 25 East, as well as the construction of the new signature Margaret McDermott Bridge over I-30.

Perhaps the most controversial part of the TRCP’s transportation plans is the Trinity Parkway. Plans for the new toll road call for a reliever route that would extend from S.H. 183 and IH-35 in the north to U.S. 175 in the south.

Construction on the road, estimated to cost around $1.5 billion, hasn’t started yet. Some detractors say it never will, given the state of the Texas Department of Transportation’s available funds for new road construction. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA)’s final environmental impact statement, released in March, did give approval for a proposed alignment of the parkway, and many Dallas leaders say it’s a key part of the city’s future transportation needs.

But critics, from city councilmembers to editorial boards, have pointed to the FHA’s findings that the road would include a short flood separation wall that would require an evacuation plan in the event of a 100-year flood. Some critics also take issue with the idea that the road would create a physical barrier between the city and the park.

If the parkway does come to be, proponents hope it will spur economic development in and around the Trinity Corridor.

We want to know what you think about the Trinity River Corridor Project! What is your favorite part of the project? What are you most looking forward to? What would you like to see done differently? Leave your comments below.

 

Written by Will Schnier P.E.

Will Schnier P.E.

Will Schnier is the Chief Executive Officer of BIG RED DOG Engineering | Consulting. Will received his BSCE from Purdue University and co-founded BIG RED DOG Engineering and Consulting in 2009. Since starting the firm in 2009, BIG RED DOG has grown to over 100 team members with offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. BIG RED DOG has garnered awards for being one of the 50 fastest growing companies in Texas (Business Journal’s Fast 50 in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) and an ENR top 100 Design Firm in Texas and Louisiana (2012, 2103, 2014, 2015). Mr. Schnier is very well versed in the project review and development permitting process having worked closely and very successfully with City and County review staff, neighborhood associations, environmental groups, and public boards and councils. He has been responsible for the project management, engineering design, and regulatory permitting of hundreds of single family subdivision projects, mixed use and multifamily residential developments, industrial facilities and oil and gas development projects throughout Texas. He is the author of two publications: “Land Subdivision – A Practical Guide for Central Texas” and “The Book on License Agreements in the City of Austin”. Will was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Real Estate Council of Austin (RECA) in 2014 and served as Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s appointment to the City of Austin Zoning Board of Adjustment from 2011 to 2015.