Induced Demand: Why Highways Still Reign in Dallas

Regional planners and Dallas officials aren't confident that the area's highway-centric worldview (and budget) will change anytime soon. The city's competitiveness in the national job market may be on the line.

1 minute read

July 7, 2018, 7:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

Dallas Highways

amadeustx / Shutterstock

While Dallas has taken some steps to build out its transit grid, the region as a whole is still firmly situated in what one city councilman calls "transportation planning right out of the 1950s." Here, Brandon Formby discusses why North Texas' transportation planning seems stuck in a mode that favors intensive road construction.

Despite aiming to "give people alternatives to driving everywhere solo," the North Central Texas Council of Governments' Mobility 2045 plan is heavy on the highways. "Less than 3 percent of the $42.9 billion in traditional federal and state transportation revenues in the plan goes toward projects built for pedestrians and bicyclists; less than 1 percent goes toward public transit."

One prevalent problem is the fact that current behavior must be used to predict future needs, even when it's impossible to know how people will want to get around thirty years from now. Are young people driving because they want to, or because they "have had to etch out their lives atop metropolitan areas that were built around the automobile long before they were born?"

Meanwhile, "with no major geographic barriers like mountain chains or an ocean on the North Texas landscape, there are few natural obstacles to restrict the region's sprawl." Officials expect the familiar pattern of road construction and suburban development to continue.

See also: Highway Expansion Could Be Calamitous for Dallas' City Center

Monday, June 25, 2018 in D Magazine

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