TxDOT, DART, and the Cities of Dallas, University Park and Highland Park entered into a partnership to reconstruct a 9-mile segment of US 75 to eliminate short sight lines, redesign on-ramps and acceleration lanes, and add capacity. The highway now has a minimum of eight continuous general purpose lanes and is in a trench for six of the nine miles between downtown and I-635 (the LBJ Freeway).
Project Type:Widening Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:242,000 Length (mi):8.55
Economic Distress:1.39 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):2658 Population Growth Rate (%):0.64
Employment Growth Rate (%):-0.14 Market Size:1,772,930 Airport Travel Distance:13.3333 Topography:4
Region:Southwest State:TX County:Dallas
City:Dallas Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:Dallas
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Highway GIS Lat/Long:32.533892 / -96.461268
Initial Study Date:1990 Post Constr. Study Date:2000
Constr. Start Date:1992 Constr. End Date:1999
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 1999 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):312,265,200 Actual Cost (curr $):463,635,208
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||655.94||380.44||1036.38|
|Output (in $M's)||1944.80||1127.98||3072.78|
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), and the Cities of Dallas, University Park and Highland Park entered into a partnership to reconstruct a 9-mile segment of US 75 (the North Central Expressway). The project included rebuilding the highway to eliminate short sight lines, redesign on-ramps and acceleration lanes, and add capacity. The highway now has a minimum of eight continuous general purpose lanes and is in a trench for six of the nine miles between downtown and I-635 (the LBJ Freeway). The reconstruction began in 1992 and was completed in 1999. Located in an already developed part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, and built in conjunction with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit's North Central light rail line, significant development has taken place nearby the expressway since the completion of the widening. This includes 2.2 million square feet of new office space, 8,800 new housing units, 1.3 million square feet of new retail space, and 725 hotel rooms added within one-mile of the corridor (includes projects currently under construction). An estimated 9,800 jobs can be attributed to this project.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
The North Central Expressway begins in Downtown Dallas, where the Expressway connects with I-35 (to Austin and San Antonio), I-45 (to Houston), and I-30 (to Memphis). A few miles south of the downtown area, I-20 links Dallas with the southwest (via El Paso) and southeast (via Atlanta). The North Central Expressway-LBJ Freeway (I-635) intersection (the "High Five") marks the northern end of the study area. From the High Five and the LBJ Freeway, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the world's 7th busiest, is less than 15 miles to the west. Within the City of Dallas, Love Field, a Southwest Airlines hub, is three miles west of the North Central Expressway and can be reached via Mockingbird Lane. From the northeastern part of metropolitan Dallas, commuters from Collin County (Plano and McKinney) and the Telecom Corridor (the technology area around US 75 in North Dallas and Richardson) use the North Central Expressway to reach Downtown Dallas and Love Field.
Since its completion in 1950, the North Central Expressway has set the stage for northward expansion of the Dallas metropolitan area, first to northern Dallas County and then spreading to Collin County. Direct access to Downtown Dallas and the Interstate system made the growth achievable and spawned commercial, residential, and industrial development along the length of the North Central Expressway. Today, DART's new Red Line caters to the mobility needs of this development and follows the alignment of the North Central Expressway from Downtown Dallas to Plano. Together, the widened expressway and the Red Line greatly improve travel capacity (and lessen congestion) for businesses and people located in the northern part of Dallas County and in Collin County.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
The North Central Expressway serves Dallas and Collin Counties, with a combined population of 3.2 million. The region is one of the fastest growing in the United States. Since the completion of the expressway widening in November 1999, the two counties have added over 460,000 people. Between 2000 and 2008, Dallas County and Collin County grew by 9% and 55%, respectively, compared to 17% for the entire State of Texas.
The nine-mile long study corridor between downtown and the LBJ Freeway is one of the older parts of the Dallas metropolitan region. The North Central Expressway corridor includes the northern edge of the downtown, pre-war traditional commercial districts and neighborhoods, and the first wave of intensive suburban development taking place between the 1950s and 1970s. Two inner suburbs, University Park (the home of Southern Methodist University) and Highland Park, both just to the west of the Expressway, rank among the most affluent communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The two "Park Cities" are largely built-out, with only occasional infill residential and commercial development still occurring.
Just to the east of University Park, the NorthPark Shopping Center is located at the intersection of the North Central Expressway and the Northwest Highway. This shopping center opened in 1965 on land that had been a cotton field. The NorthPark Center continues to be the top retail center in the Dallas area, attracting 21 million visitors per year. Other residential and commercial projects followed NorthPark Center as suburban development spread northward along the the North Central Expressway. With the development of Park Central, an office park completed in the 1980s at the intersection of the North Central Expressway and the LBJ Freeway, very few large parcels remained available for development on the North Central Expressway inside the LBJ beltway. The availability of developable and relatively inexpensive land has brought massive new residential and commercial development northward into Collin County in the 1980s. Several of the fastest growing cities in the country, including Allen, Plano, and McKinney, are located on a 20-mile segment of the North Central Expressway north of the LBJ Freeway (and north of the study area).
Although the North Central Expressway was initially considered an engineering marvel when it first opened to traffic in 1950, the explosive growth in north Dallas and its nearby suburbs eventually overwhelmed the expressway's design capacity. The narrow freeway swooped over cross-streets and under bridges, but poor roadway geometries made for short sightlines and an accident-prone drives. The ramps linking the service roads to the expressway came every quarter to half-mile and were very short, making accelerating into the flow of traffic dangerous and causing traffic back-ups on local arterials feeding into the expressway.
By the 1970s, the North Central Expressway had become a major civic concern. Options for relieving the congestion on the functionally obsolete roadway were constrained by its narrow right-of-way, ranging from 180 to 200 feet. An attempt to control the flow of traffic in the 1970s using computer-controlled metering lights did not succeed. The Federal Highway administration (FHWA) began initial planning work to add capacity to the expressway in the 1970s. A partnership of TxDOT, DART, Dallas, and the Park Cities took over the stalled project from the FHWA in the early 1980s, and moved the project forward without Federal money.
After much public debate, it was decided to put the expressway in a trench from just north of Downtown Dallas to I-635. The North Central Expressway project encompasses many of the enhancement elements included in the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (e.g., pedestrian and bicycle facilities, landscaping and other scenic beautification). An architecture firm was hired to develop a consistent design theme for the corridor, and engineering, landscaping, and access for the North Central Expressway project was coordinated with the building of DART's new Red Line stations to create an integrated facility. Bridges going across the expressway were widened to accommodate bike lanes and new pedestrian bridges were added. These investments have helped re-knit the communities on either side of the North Central Expressway, and the aesthetic attractiveness of the corridor resulting from the strong emphasis on design has helped attract infill development, particularly to the areas just north of Downtown Dallas.
The reconstruction of the North Central Expressway began in 1992 and was completed in 1999. Adding capacity to the extremely narrow right-of-way increased the engineering complexity (e.g., the feeder roads to the expressway needed to be cantilevered over the main through-lanes) and costs of the project. The total reconstruction cost was about $640 million, approximately $200 million more than building an elevated structure.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
The North Central Expressway was redesigned to accommodate past growth and provide capacity for future expansion in northern Dallas and Collin County. Since completion of the redesign in 1999, traffic numbers on the North Central Expressway are a testament to the continued fast growth of the metropolitan area and Collin County, in particular. In 1970, twenty years after the North Central Expressway first opened, it handled about 69,000 vehicles per day. Even at this level, significant congestion and safety issues were gaining notoriety. By 1990, just before the beginning of the reconstruction project, daily traffic had more than doubled to 157,000 vehicles per day. In the first full year of service (2000) after the widening, the expressway handled 174,000 vehicles per day. Seven years later, and despite the collapse of the telecommunications industry concentrated along the corridor, traffic on the North Central Expressway had balooned to 242,000 vehicles per day, a 39% increase. The original North Central Expressway could not have handled this traffic.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
The impacts of the widening of the North Central Expressway and the expansion of the DART Red Line are intertwined. The Red Line follows US 75 north from Downtown Dallas and the two projects were planned and built together to increase mobility, add capacity, and reduce congestion in the northern part of Dallas. The North Central Expressway and DART have helped revitalize the entire corridor and have spawned considerable commercial and residential construction activity. A study of new development around DART stations identified $1.1 billion worth of investment in five station areas immediately adjacent to the North Central Expressway between 1999 and 2005. Since 2005, the NorthPark Center Mall has undergone a $235 million renovation and expansion. On the other side of the Expressway from the mall, a $750 million multi-use project called Park Lane is now under development.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) documents 2.2 million square feet of new office space, 8,800 new housing units, 1.3 million square feet of new retail space, and 725 hotel rooms added within one-mile of the North Central Expressway during the 2000-2009 period, including projects currently under construction. NCTCOG believes development within Dallas's "Uptown District" the area closest to Downtown and on the North Central Expressway, would have been built regardless of the roadway improvements. However, projects farther to the north such as the $750 million Park Lane needed the expressway improvements to be built. Excluding the new development located in Uptown, 4,000 housing units, 1.8 million square feet of office space, and 1.0 million square feet of retail space have been constructed along the the North Central Expressway since 2000.
An analysis of residential property by the Texas Transportation Institute shows that the North Central Expressway widening has improved property values. The study found a proximity benefit ranging between 1.6 and 2.6% for townhomes and a 2.4% premium for attached housing. Using a statistical approach, the study looked at thousands of properties in Dallas County and compared values on segments of the expressway widening that opened early (1994) to values in 2000. Unlike many other studies, the TTI analysis distinguished between properties nearby DART stations and those farther away. Although prices increased more for homes in proximity to transit stations, those still close to the expressway but well beyond walking distance to DART stops also appreciated more than a control group of properties not in proxmity to the North Central Expressway.
Due to structural changes in the Dallas economy, chiefly the collapse of the dot-com industry in 2001-2002 and its impacts on the telecommunications industry, the number of jobs in the corridor immediately adjacent to the expressway declined by 13% between 2000 and 2006 compared to a 10% drop in total jobs for Dallas County. During the same period, jobs in Collin County, increased by 41% (+75,000 jobs), helped in part by the improved mobility provided by the North Central Expressway to commuters and other travelers driving between McKinney, Plano, Allen, and Richardson (Collin County's largest commercial and residential areas).
Balancing the jobs lost in Dallas County because of the telecom bust and the new office, retail, hotel, and residential development attracted, we estimate the net jobs created in the area to be 9,800.
The economic benefits of both the North Central Expressway and the DART Red Line need to be seen as complementary and interdependent. Transit-oriented development (TOD) taking place around DART stations depended on access provided by both infrastructure projects. In addition, DART worked with the city to rezone areas to accommodate mix-use, transit-oriented development, and DART's sophisticated real estate department marketed the corridor to attract TOD. Development in the corridor and throughout the Dallas metropolitan area has been affected over the years by the economic cycles affecting the oil industry, the dot-com industry, and telecommunications. Furthermore, some of the growth in the region reflects an overall national trend of migration from the north to the south and southwestern parts of the United States.
University of North Texas
North Central Texas Council of Governments
Case Study Developed by Cambridge Systematics, Inc.