So there I was, driving eastbound on the LBJ Freeway at night, merging onto the North Central Expressway. A few thoughts were crossing my mind at the time, but probably the most prominent was “wow, this bridge is really tall and scary.”
Sure, some of you may laugh at reading that, and frankly I’m kind of ashamed of it myself. But I’d like to believe I have a valid point–the High Five Interchange is as high as a 12-story building and has 37 permanent bridges. At this point you have to begin to wonder, how much is too much?…
I’m not just talking specifically about that interchange either. The High Five is representative of many other busy freeway interchanges in the Metroplex. And to be completely honest, these massive freeways and their interchanges are kind of frightening and unappealing to me, and I’m a DFW native. If I live in the area and feel this way, maybe some of the other people around the country turned off by these concrete behemoths, also?
Sure, these enormous, intricate freeways and interchanges are engineering marvels, but are they really practical and pleasant for those who have to drive on them? Well, that’s really a matter of personal opinion.
If you’re unsettled by the freeways we have now, the outlook appears to be pretty bleak–the LBJ Freeway is getting even bigger, and it’s already gargantuan as it is. And the DFW Connector is actually huge in person. Sure, these new projects alleviate traffic for a little while, but it’s all just a cycle that repeats itself. Soon enough, the highway will be over capacity again, and commuters will have to deal with multiple years of arduous construction. But as our population grows, is there really anything we can do about it?
Well, to answer this question, I think we have to look at the cause of the problem. In my opinion, it seems like we’ve been blessed with too much space in the DFW area. All of this space has caused a ridiculous amount of urban sprawl, which in turn has caused more commuters to drive across the Metroplex, and thus, more traffic.
With the Metroplex continually expanding (both population-wise and area-wise), there’s really only a couple of solutions for our continually expanding freeways, and they’re both pretty big undertakings.
Either we densify or find a mode of large-scale public transportation.
Just look at New York City. Their metropolitan statistical area has nearly three times as many people as DFW, yet they don’t have any massive, continually-expanding freeways like us. And the reasoning for this should be pretty obvious–considering they only have a fraction of the land area that the Metroplex does, their population is a lot denser than ours. Additionally, the New York City subway system is one of the most extensive and comprehensive in the world.
So, what will it be? Should we keep our current ideology of continuous physical expansion or should we implement a new system entirely? I’d like to hear what you think.