Into Downtown’s Tunnels, A Horror Story

See the video on the Dallas tunnel system here

From time to time we’ve revisited the damage done to downtown Dallas by Montreal urban planner Vincent Ponte, who proposed in the June 1968 issue of Esquire that downtown Dallas bury its businesses underground — a decision then-Dallas Mayor Laura Miller referred to in The New York Times in ’05 as “the worst urban planning decision that Dallas has ever made.” The Downtown Dallas 360 plan intends, somehow, to rectify that.

Read remainder of the story at Dallas Observer

You should also read WalkableDFW’s thoughts on why the tunnels are not good for Downtown Dallas, below:

Jack is right about everything he said in the video. It seems to be have finally permeated the conventional wisdom that the tunnels have been a net negative on the viability and vibrancy of downtown. But the first thing we have to be sure we don’t get caught up in is assigning singular blame or promise of a magic bullet. The tunnels alone didn’t kill downtown. Rather, they were a piece of the puzzle including (but not limited to): single-use zoning (generic and cut/pasted across the country), new construction tax breaks for both commercial and residential property, federal highway $$, state and federal road standards that reduce necessary network complexity, adaptability, and local mobility, artificially low gas prices, etc. etc.

So if we’re accepting that indeed tunnels aren’t a grand new vision of progress, I feel it is always critical to understand why they failed because there really isn’t anything particularly insidious about new connectivity besides violating a few urban planning precepts. If any city begins as a crossroads (in 2-dimensions), eventually those two roads, particularly at the intersection, will become overcrowded. A parallel road to the x-axis will have to be added, than a parallel to the y, and so on as the city’s grid expands along with population and desirability of the place and the marketplace that is created by 1) population and 2) infrastructural convergence, i.e. predictability. The traffic spills outward, filling up new outlets, desire lines, bypasses, forming a complex network. Eventually, it makes more sense to go up than to continually expand outward and outward, but there is no magical tipping point besides what makes sense on a local case by case basis. It is incremental, the way cities/systems/organisms naturally adapt, evolve, grow.

Read the remainder of his thoughts at PegasusNews

About Bob Voelker

Head of the Munsch Hardt (Dallas law firm) Hospitality & Mixed Use Development Group, and former developer of affordable housing. I'm i
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