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Urban Planner Patrick Kennedy Wants To Tear Down A Highway

Krystina Martinez
Patrick Kennedy is an urban planner who's campaigning to tear down a stretch of I-345.

It’s a rough time to be a commuter in North Texas. The massive Horseshoe project is rerouting downtown Dallas highways, 635’s a mess, 820 and other freeways under construction in the midcities are swamped. So what’s the answer? Urban planner Patrick Kennedy argues we should be tearing down highways – or at least one stretch of I-345 in downtown Dallas.

He sits down for a Friday Conversation with KERA’s vice president of news, Rick Holter.  

Interview Highlights: Patrick Kennedy…

…On political support for tearing down I-345:

We’re not naïve, we knew this would be very difficult, but we felt it was worth having a conversation and that was the very first point of this. The talk about 345 has been influential in starting to change minds about whether we really need highways through cities, and if you look at all the other cities that people love to visit around the country and around the world, they’re not dominated by freeways in the core. Their transportation is something different.  

…On the effect of tearing down the highway has on traffic flows:

Only about 10 percent of the traffic [going through I-345] is long-haul freight and that is a significant amount, but that’s the kind of traffic that should be going around the city if it’s not coming to the city.

…On criticisms that his ideas would make life harder for African Americans and Latinos in South Dallas:

I think that’s sort of a lazy and reflective response that happens to be sort of embedded in Dallas politics but ultimately what we’re talking about is bringing jobs closer to South Dallas and steering investment around from the north side around to downtown. Again, so the jobs aren’t continually spilling further away from South Dallas but actually bringing them back to the city.

…On whether Dallas wants to kick its car addiction:

We’re effectively subsidizing land at the edge of town. Cheaper land in order to get further away, and thus, we have to drive everywhere. When 96 percent of trips are by car, but then we’ve got 20, 25 percent of the population is below poverty, we’re then pushing people and forcing people to have cars just to participate in the local economy in a way that they can’t afford right now.

Patrick Kennedy blogs about this and other urban planning issues at Walkable DFW

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.