One of the best things about living in East Dallas is that it’s not Richardson.

That’s why it’s more than a little disturbing to learn that the City of Dallas wants to inconvenience those of us who live here to benefit those who don’t.

The issue is the City’s plan to alleviate congestion on North Central Expressway during the 10 years or so it will take to widen Dallas’ most infamous highway. Regardless of how you feel about the North Central work (and I could make a terrific case for it as one of the biggest boondoggles in Texas history), I don’t see why the construction should negatively affect anyone in East Dallas.

We don’t use it to drive Downtown to work; people in Richardson do.

We don’t use it to drive to a shopping mall; people in Richardson do.

We don’t use it to drive home in the evening; people in Richardson do.

However, this seems to be a distinction lost on City planners.

They want to rearrange the infamous East Dallas Corridor – specifically, Greenville Avenue and Matilda Street – to handle the overflow from North Central Expressway when upcoming construction makes the highway even more impassable than usual.

City bureaucrats float this idea every so often, and it usually doesn’t go anywhere. It’s something left over from the City’s scheme to destroy East Dallas by turning all of its roads – Abrams, Gaston, Ross and the like – into six-lane highways, which would have enabled the real estate developers who once ran the City to buy a lot of cheap land near Downtown.

Who, after all, wants to raise a family in a neighborhood best-known for cars whizzing by at 50 miles per hour?

Most of the East Dallas people who fought these thoroughfare battles figured the war was over, and won, when Texas’ savings and loans failed, and the real estate developers went broke.

But then someone at City Hall saw a way to sneak the plan back into existence.

The City wants to add a reversible lane to the Matilda Bridge for morning rush hour, turn Greenville (between Mockingbird Lane and Belmont Avenue) into two lanes southbound and one lane northbound, and tinker with several Skillman Street intersections.

Their reasoning: How could anyone object to some changes along Matilda and Greenville to make life easier for the poor souls forced to drive North Central Expressway?

Well, it’s easy to object when you consider who uses North Central. And if those users are poor souls, I’m moving to Plano tomorrow.

The Texas Highway Department studied North Central’s traffic and concluded people from Richardson, Plano and North Dallas are its primary users. Interestingly, the same study found that no one from Richardson or Plano drives to work through the East Dallas Corridor.

“Improving” two of East Dallas’ most residential streets (did I mention the schools and churches in the path of the proposal?) to benefit some suburban ziphead seems as sensible as shooting yourself in the foot because you have a headache.

It’s hard to work up sympathy for some Richardson banker stuck in North Central traffic (especially when he’s probably going Downtown to redline East Dallas).

Why are we responsible for this guy’s commuting comfort?

And why should we be penalized because he has a horrible commute?

If people in Richardson want to work Downtown but don’t like traffic jams, let them move to East Dallas. We can drive Downtown at the height of rush hour in seven minutes, and the City and state don’t have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make it possible, either.

It’s bad enough the suburbs bleed our tax base, woo our industry and badmouth the City every chance they get. But it’s even worse when the City to which we pay our taxes helps them do it.

This plan hasn’t been offered to the City Council yet, primarily because several East Dallas neighborhood groups have convinced Councilman Glenn Box to hold it up (as he is allowed to do on a matter affecting his district).

But it probably wouldn’t hurt to call Box’s office (670-4069) to let him know this is an idea whose time has not come – and will never come.

Especially as long as those of us in East Dallas would rather not live in Richardson.


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