Dallas City Council is scheduled to vote on a proposal that could determine the future of I-345 during their upcoming council meeting May 24.

The gist: I-345 is a 1.4-mile, elevated six-lane freeway that connects I-45 to US 75 through downtown Dallas and provides connections to I-30 and Woodall Rodgers Freeway. The freeway supports 180,000 vehicles per day, according to a study conducted by the Texas Department of Transportation.

Since at least 2012, state and city officials have discussed reconfiguring the freeway because it will eventually become too expensive to maintain, according to TxDOT officials. Critics of the freeway have suggested that tearing down the highway could reconnect Deep Ellum and southern Dallas to the downtown core. Built in 1973, the highway segregated Deep Ellum, which is historically Black, from other areas of the city, critics of the plan have argued.

How we got here: From April 2018-October 2022, TxDOT officials conducted a $7 million feasibility study to develop alternatives to how I-345 is configured, including whether to leave it as it is, tear it down or rebuild it.

TxDOT officials support a hybrid option, which would tear down the freeway and rebuild it mostly in a trench, but City Council members have remained divided on whether to move forward with that option. Some City Council members have said they want to see an independent study to further analyze options for the freeway and potential ramifications.

City Council was previously scheduled to vote on whether to support the hybrid option in February, but that vote was pushed back due to a lack of consensus. During a May 17 briefing about the feasibility of the I-345 change, City Council members remained divided on the issue.

Quote of note: “We really think the hybrid is the best solution because we think we can maintain the traffic movement from north to south and south to north,” said Ceason Clemens, Dallas district engineer for TxDOT. “As well, we think we can make the [freeway] less of a barrier.”

Clemens repeatedly said during the May 17 meeting that the hybrid option, which could cost up to $1 billion, is the only option TxDOT will support.

Get involved: Community members can register to speak for or against the hybrid solution at the City Council meeting May 24. To do so, visit the Dallas City Hall website, email [email protected], or call 214-670-3738. The deadline to register to speak at the May 24 meeting is 5 p.m. May 23.

Dallas Neighbors for Housing, a housing advocacy organization, is hosting a community meeting May 23 to discuss the history of I-345 and possible alternatives to TxDOT’s hybrid option. The organization is petitioning City Council to delay its vote to accept the hybrid plan and conduct further evaluation of other options.