Interstate 30 opened in Dallas on August 27, 1957, dividing North Dallas and South Dallas into two different sectors. In order to build this highway, the city of Dallas had to repossess the homes that fell within the path of the project, which furthered the housing crisis in the already-struggling South Dallas communities. In addition to cutting through South Dallas, I-30 divided Downtown Dallas and made it impossible for residents of the southern communities to use public transportation. Streetcars used to run throughout Dallas, but with highways divided the city and made it difficult for residents without cars to get into areas north of I-30 (Rethinking I-30, n.d.).
Many people throughout Dallas have been unhappy with the effects I-30 had on South and West Dallas, stating that it “helped fuel segregation” and cut off a hurting community from its lively center. Ultimately, the highway system was built to advance economic growth in Dallas, along with increasing mobility to other places cities and states across the United States. While I-30 helped further this goal, it did so at the cost of two large communities in Dallas who are still suffering the economic and social consequences (Holliday, par. 9-11).
In regard to using the highway system for racial segregation, Dr. Kathryn Holliday stated:
The harm caused by I-30, along with other highways in Dallas like US-75 and Woodall Rodgers Freeway, has led to a grassroots movement for rebuilding the highways so that they don’t divide the city. A more recent example of this effort was the construction of Klyde Warren Park, which was built to connect the severed neighborhoods to the North and South of Woodall Rodgers Freeway. Where there was once a physical division, there is now a tunnel with a park on top that offers a variety of events and programs for community engagement and entertainment (Goodman, 2019, par. 6).
There have been talks with TxDOT about using the Klyde Warren Model to redesign the area of I-30 called “the Canyon,” which is a 1.3 mile stretch that lies between Downtown and the Cedars. Their plan includes getting rid of the confusing ramps, connecting the Cedars to Downtown with deck parks like Klyde Warren, and depressing the highway below grade (Goodman, 2019, par. 4).
The Coalition for a New Dallas proposed changes to I-30 with a series of demands: no eminent domain of private property to build the new highway, a narrowing of the highway, no frontage roads except for access points and exits, prioritizing the corridor for emergency vehicles near Baylor University Medical Center, and for the interstate to be below grade so there are street connections reconnecting South Dallas to downtown (Rethinking I-30, n.d., par. 5-8). While some of these demands are being addressed with the Canyon Project, the funding is putting restrictions on the scope of the project. Only time will tell how the redevelopment of I-30 reconnects the broken communities.
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Woodall Rodgers Freeway divided Freedman’s Town North Dallas from downtown Dallas, causing migration to South Dallas:
Dallas Morning New Editorial. (2019, November 4). A highway ripped Dallas apart. Now’s our chance to repair the damage. https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2019/11/04/a-highway-ripped-dallas-apart-nows-our-chance-to-repair-the-damage/
Goodman, M. (2019, October 31). A Look At I-30’s Hopes in The Canyon: Deck Parks, Complete Streets, and More—D Magazine. Frontburner. https://www.dmagazine.com/frontburner/2019/10/txdot-dallas-interstate-30-canyon/
Holliday, K. (n.d.). The Road to Disinvestment: How Highways Divided the City and Destroyed Neighborhoods. AIA Dallas. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://www.aiadallas.org/v/blog-detail/The-Road-to-Disinvestment-How-Highways-Divided-the-City-and-Destroyed-Neighborhoods/pt/
Rethinking I-30. (n.d.). Coalition for a New Dallas. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://www.coalitionforanewdallas.org/i-30