A photo of a construction site spilling onto a downtown sidewalk. Another of a car parked on the sidewalk. Prickly cacti blocking access to a crosswalk button. This is all evidence, according to D Magazine, that Dallas “hates pedestrians.” The city’s Department of Transportation, established in 2018, wants to change that perception.
From modern Dallas’ start in the early 1900s, the region largely focused on new development, sprawl and roadways to connect it all. Transportation policy has long been guided by powerful Texas state authorities that invested heavily in car-centric planning. Before 2018, according to Jay Blazek Crossley, executive director of Farm & City, local transit matters in Dallas fell to the public works agency, which has “been just focused on building more roads.” (Farm & City is a nonprofit that promotes sustainable urban and rural living across Texas.)
The young Dallas DOT has taken meaningful steps toward a more holistic vision for city transit and mobility. Most crucially, the agency now serves as a tool to push back against large-scale highway planning.
“We’ve put a greater focus on public input,” says Michael Rogers, the city’s first transportation director. “We’re trying to deliver projects and programs that you hear from the public that they want.”
A shift from a car-centric culture has been percolating in Dallas for the past few years. “In 2007, the idea that it is not good to build major highways in the heart of the city was not considered a powerful argument at the time,” former Council Member Angela Hunt told D Magazine in 2015. “I think we are smarter about transportation. We have a different vision.”
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