Riverfront Boulevard: What’s in a name, Dallas? Would that which we call a complete street by any other name smell as sweet?

May 7, 2010 § 1 Comment

Act II in the multimillion dollar production Riverfront Boulevard is scheduled to debut Monday, May 10 at 7 pm (a reception to meet the cast and crew starts at 6:30 pm) in the Conference Room Auditorium at City Hall, when the City of Dallas will host a “public involvement workshop” about the newly proposed Riverfront Boulevard Design.  Admittance is free.  Produced by the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee, Riverfront Boulevard is the sequel to the dark and complex tragicomedy César Chávez.

What type of play is in store for us this time?  Is Riverfront Boulevard a Tragedy?  Comedy?  Drama?  Well, the City’s prologue of a presentation to the Trinity River Committee on April 15 establishes this play firmly as a drama.  The central character is Complete Streets, a newcomer to Dallas who will transform a road, predominately industrial in character, into “the primary frontage road for the Trinity Lakes area of the Park,” where there will be “a new emphasis on mobility options such as transit, bicycles, pedestrians and sustainability.”

In the prologue, City Staff introduces Complete Streets with the pledge to implement “context sensitive solutions, trust, commitment, shared vision and interagency cooperation integration.”  Complete Streets will create “a new front door” to the Trinity River.  Complete Streets is warmly received.  Councilmember Neumann, Chair of the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee, praises Complete Streets.  Complete Streets is “putting our money where our mouth is.”

We turn to Act I, where a street fight breaks out after the public challenges the identity of Complete Streets.  Physically, Complete Streets is an imposing presence and with the temperament of a superhighway, Complete Streets is vulnerable to road rage.  At 8-lanes wide with 11-lane intersections, Complete Streets dwarfs the largest arterials in Dallas.  Move aside 6-lane roads.  Harry Hines and Walnut Hill, Houston Street through Victory, Beltline – all do not even stand shoulder high to Complete Streets.  Complete Streets promises to be the largest vehicular-capacity arterial road in Dallas.  In Dallas, only interstates and tollways will have more vehicular-capacity and speed.

Where is the justification for all of this road?  Complete Streets has yet to publicly produce a traffic analysis.  And what of the multiple turn lanes into the future pedestrian-bridge Continental?  Complete Streets has three westbound turn lanes at Riverfront and Continental.  Does the future pedestrian-bridge Continental require three automobile turn lanes to receive vehicular traffic?  Complete Streets, supposedly the healthiest street in America, coughs while seemingly saying something about saving an envelope for Downtown entrance/exit ramps at the foot of the Continental pedestrian-bridge for the Trinity Tollway.  To be fair, Complete Streets was almost impossible to hear.

All this is enough in itself to cast suspension.  But, what of cost?  Dallas has budgeted $40 million for 1.5 miles.  That’s just over $26 million per mile.  That is not enough for Complete Streets.  A demand of $54 million or $36 million per mile is made!  To justify the cost, Complete Streets declares a taking of 10 feet of developable land from all land owners on the east and west sides of Riverfront.  At stage left, the road construction companies are salivating.

At the close of Act I, the public challenges Complete Streets to reveal its true identity.  Are you a complete street or something far more sinister: a mutant superhighway or bloated construction project?  Act I ends.

Identity.  This one word encapsulates the central struggle of Riverfront Boulevard.  As Act II unfolds, we will witness Complete Streets embark on a path of self-discovery to resolve the intense crisis of conflicting values between a city’s obsession with wider/faster streets and the promise of building a world-class boulevard.

Let’s briefly foreshadow the character of Complete Streets, if Complete Streets desires to be a world class boulevard.  Such a character will undoubtedly share some of the characteristics of the great urban mutltiway boulevards of the world.  These boulevards serve multiple roles at once – providing for traffic movement and access, and as public space for urban activities.  The key to such co-existence is both a faster central through-going realm and large, adjacent low speed pedestrian realms at the edges.

Three great boulevards that approximately fit the existing right-of-way of Riverfront are:  Avenue Marceau, Paris (134 feet building-to-building); Avenue Montaigne, Paris (126 feet building-to-building); and Via Nomentana, Rome (130 feet building-to-building).  Each of these great boulevards, although not without flaws, is tested and proven.  The following cross-section is from The Boulevard Book by Allan B. Jacobs et al. (2002, Massachusetts Institute of Technology):

And here is the proposed cross-section:

Comparing the streets, the percentages of space dedicated to low speed pedestrian realms for urban activities and higher speed traffic are evident.

Boulevard Pedestrian Realms Through-Going Realm Percent of Space for Pedestrian Realms and Urban Activities
Proposed Riverfront Boulevard 63 feet 87 feet 42%
Avenue Marceau 88 feet 46 feet 65%
Avenue Montaigne 84 feet 42 feet 66%
Via Nomentana 84 feet 46 feet 64%

The crisis of identity of Complete Streets will be fought between the space allocated to the pedestrian for low speed urban activities within Riverfront and the space given to the through-going realm for carrying automobiles away from Riverfront at higher speeds.  So far, the through-going realm is defining the identity.

Act II and the resolution of Complete Streets’ crisis of identity begin Monday.

Riverfront: The wrong way to build a Complete Street

April 19, 2010 § 15 Comments

Just reviewed the plans for the new Riverfront “Complete Street”, and the attempt put forth is hardly worthy of critique. It’s being billed as a 21st Century Main Street, which would be accurate if you enjoyed Main Streets that contained no life. For those unfamiliar with the term, a “Complete Street” is one that takes in consideration multiple modes of transit and give equal treatment to each. There’s nothing equal in the Riverfront renderings. It’s a 6 lanes + 2 turn lanes street with glorified sidewalks being developed as “cycle tracks” for shared bicycle and pedestrian use. In other words, its form is:

Pedestrian/Bicycle, Car, Car, Car, Car, Car, Car, Car, Car, Bicycle/Pedestrian

There are multiple reasons to develop a complete street including lessening CO2 emissions, allowing for/enabling multiple transit options, enlivening an area with pedestrians, and greater economic development potential. Problems with our current streetscapes are that there is far too much weight given to one mode of transit which lessens the likelihood of use for any other. What are we trying to enable? Pedestrianization of an area, or automotive through-way? When it’s far easier to drive than it is to walk or bicycle, why attempt another mode? And who exactly would want to walk, or dine, or bicycle beside a 6 lane arterial? When cities like New York are removing cars completely from major roadways, it’s odd that we’d take the opposite stance and shove more vehicles into an area that we’re trying to bill as people-friendly.

View the video below to see Copenhagen’s planner, Jan Gehl, discuss implementing a true “Complete Street” and note how they’re taking 6 lane roads and converting them to two vehicle lanes only. This is a city with far greater density than Dallas, yet it’s removing vehicle lanes. If we want a 21st Century Main Street, we have to move away from the fear that “Dallas can’t” change from auto-only use. We proved during the Better Block, that if you gave people a different option for a street, they would embrace it and come out with their families. Imagine a place that has a more equal road treatment, like McKinney Avenue between Maple and Allen (sidewalk, car, car, trolley, sidewalk)…now imagine putting a 6+2 lane arterial road down the center. Does it still seem inviting?

SM Wright a Complete Street?

February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

Cities around the country are moving to reduce the impact of highways and large arterial on local economic development and quality of life. They are doing it by replacing the dinosaurs of the transportation world (grade seperated highways) with at-grade multi-lane boulevards. Boulevards move high traffic volumes while creating a generous pedestrian realm and living environment by separating through traffic from local access lanes.

Multi-way Boulevard1
Characterized by:
–Central roadway for through traffic
–Parallel roadways access abutting property, parking, and pedestrian and bicycle facilities
–Parallel roadways separated from the through lanes by curbed islands

I spent twelve years of my life trying to define a way to tame the highway and calm the large arterial and was a contributing author to two manuals on such measures: Texas Access Manual and Context Sensitive Design . To date I have yet to see a six lane divided arterial with mixed use walkable development or one that is comfortable to peds and bikes as the consultant for the SM Wright redesign promises in this article.

It is a simple matter of speed. You must separate the cars and trucks moving at 35mph+ from the bikes moving at 10mph+ and the pedestrians walking at 3mph or less. This separation You must divide the speeds of the roadway with multi-lane http://www.sfbetterstreets.org/design-guidelines/street-types/multi-way-boulevards/

 Multi-way Boulevard
Let us not fall short of the true meaning of complete streets, green streets, multi-modal boulevards. We need to show the same community dissent as was displayed during the Riverfront design process
http://bikefriendlyoc.org/?s=riverfront.
South Dallas does deserve a true complete street that will unite the neighborhood and spur revitalization. A compromised design that really does not serve any traveler well is not a good use of valuable tax dollars. Lets recommend a multi-lane boulevard!

What to Know to Attend Ciclovia de Dallas!

April 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

*A Ciclovia de Dallas FYI: The Houston St Viaduct is NOT the old bridge parallel with the new Calatrava. It’s the old bridge connecting Zang Blvd on the Oak Cliff Side and Houston St. on the Downtown side. There is another bridge directly parallel to it called the Jefferson Viaduct

*WEATHER UPDATE:  SKYS ARE LOOKING GOOD FOR THE EVENT!  WE WILL HAVE THE EVENT EVEN IF THERE ARE LIGHT SHOWERS.  PLEASE FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK FOR ANY FUTURE WEATHER UPDATES

DALLAS – On Saturday, April 14th from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm ride your bicycle, walk your dog, push your stroller, roller skate, ride a unicycle or skateboard, whatever it takes to get out to the 1st Annual Ciclovia de Dallas on the centennial Houston St. Viaduct Bridge for Dallas’ first car-free festival.

What to Know to Attend

  • EVENT TIMES:  9:00 am – 3:00 pm FREE TO ATTEND!
  • To Access the bridge from the Oak Cliff or Downtown side by any means EXCEPTa car.
    • Downtown:  Head down Houston St. past Union Station.  The street will be closed at Young and Houston St.  Enter bridge from here.
    • Oak Cliff:  Head down Zang towards downtown.  Cross the street before Jefferson St bridge near Greenbriar heading against the normal one way access.  Enter bridge from here.
  • If you’re DRIVING to the event:
    • DOWNTOWN PARKING:  Free parking is available at the old Reunion Arena.
      • From North:  Heading south onI-35, exit 429B Commerce St west; take frontage road to Commerce St, take a right; take a left onto Riverfront; take left onto Reunion Blvd heading underneath I-35; veer right past Reunion Tower; take right onto Sports St to park
      • From South:  Heading north on I-35, exit 428E Reunion Blvd, take a right onto Reunion Blvd heading underneath I-35; veer right past Reunion Tower; take right onto Sports St. to park
    • OAK CLIFF PARKING:  Free parking is available at Founders Park
  • NO CARS ALLOWED ON THE BRIDGE DURING EVENT

Event Program Schedule

  • 9:00 AM Bridge Opens
  • 9:30 AM Line Dancing
  • 10:00 AM Dallas Tap Dazzlers
  • 10:30 AM Yoga
  • 11:00 Bike Polo Game
  • 11:30 AM Zumba
  • 12:00 PM Bridge presentation
  • 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Live Music
  • 3:00 PM Bridge Closes

*Times subject to change, abridged version

What to Know to Attend Ciclovia de Dallas!

April 9, 2012 § 4 Comments

A Ciclovia de Dallas FYI: The Houston St Viaduct is NOT the old bridge parallel with the new Calatrava. It’s the old bridge connecting Zang Blvd on the Oak Cliff Side and Houston St. on the Downtown side. There is another bridge directly parallel to it called the Jefferson Viaduct

DALLAS – On Saturday, April 14th from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm ride your bicycle, walk your dog, push your stroller, roller skate, ride a unicycle or skateboard, whatever it takes to get out to the 1st Annual Ciclovia de Dallas on the centennial Houston St. Viaduct Bridge for Dallas’ first car-free festival.

What to Know to Attend

  • EVENT TIMES:  9:00 am – 3:00 pm FREE TO ATTEND!
  • To Access the bridge from the Oak Cliff or Downtown side by any means EXCEPTa car.
    • Downtown:  Head down Houston St. past Union Station.  The street will be closed at Young and Houston St.  Enter bridge from here.
    • Oak Cliff:  Head down Zang towards downtown.  Cross the street before Jefferson St bridge near Greenbriar heading against the normal one way access.  Enter bridge from here.
  • If you’re DRIVING to the event:
    • DOWNTOWN PARKING:  Free parking is available at the old Reunion Arena.
      • From North:  Heading south onI-35, exit 429B Commerce St west; take frontage road to Commerce St, take a right; take a left onto Riverfront; take left onto Reunion Blvd heading underneath I-35; veer right past Reunion Tower; take right onto Sports St to park
      • From South:  Heading north on I-35, exit 428E Reunion Blvd, take a right onto Reunion Blvd heading underneath I-35; veer right past Reunion Tower; take right onto Sports St. to park
    • OAK CLIFF PARKING:  Free parking is available at Founders Park
  • NO CARS ALLOWED ON THE BRIDGE DURING EVENT

Event Program Schedule

  • 9:00 AM Bridge Opens
  • 9:30 AM Line Dancing
  • 10:00 AM Dallas Tap Dazzlers
  • 10:30 AM Yoga
  • 11:30 AM Zumba
  • 12:00 PM Bridge presentation
  • 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Live Music
  • 3:00 PM Bridge Closes

*Times subject to change, abridged version

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