The remaking of our infrastructure is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create wealth within our city’s borders. There are acres of diamonds beneath all that concrete. Not only can we develop on land that is now unproductive under highways that add to congestion and pollution, we can also reconnect our neighborhoods in a way that attracts the middle-class back to the city. We can direct our resources to providing housing, transit, educational facilities, local retail, and parks in concentrated, walkable sections of our city characterized today by empty storefronts and vacant lots.
The removal of I-345 and its replacement by boulevards represents the most immediate of these opportunities. Dallas is the only major city in the world with 240 acres of developable land in its downtown, representing $4.5 billion in taxable value to the city. By designing that development as a dense urban center, we can bring 17,000 residents and 10,000 jobs to downtown. Taking the elevated portion of I-30 from Fair Park to Samuell Park underground would reconnect East and South Dallas, restoring value where there are now only empty parking lots. Rerouting I-45 to I-635 and lowering the elevated portion that runs through Southern Dallas would reconnect long neglected neighborhoods and repair the damage done to communities like Spence five decades ago.
We have designed our city so that jobs are in one place and employees are in another. Jobs and workers belong together. Density creates jobs. An energetic city attracts talent, and talent attracts jobs. By reknitting our city we can create jobs here, instead of sending our people on long commutes. Uptown in twenty years created 17,000 jobs. Little Bishop Arts in ten years has created 3,000 jobs. Dallas is a job-creating machine. Today, 65 percent of those jobs are filled by people commuting from the suburbs. By recreating our neighborhoods, we can bring significant numbers of those people home to the city.