On August 5th, the North Texas Council of Governments (NCTCoG), provided an update on the Bachman Area Study. Director of Transportation, Michael Morris, indicated that almost all teams at NCTCoG have been engaged and that the information they were presenting to the community had not yet been reviewed with elected officials or TXDoT.
The main take-always from the entire meetings were:
Improving The Park
The NCTCOG started out with two fantastic ideas for improving connectivity to Bachman Lake Park and enhancing pedestrian safety:
1. Creating a land bridge over Northwest Highway that would connect residents around the proposed pocket park to Bachman Lake.
2. Building a recreational island in Bachman Lake near the Rec Center that would create greenspace with scenic views and picnic areas.
Right-Sizing Overbuilt Infrastructure & Improving Park Connectivity
NCTCOG feels that Bachman Lake/Northwest Dallas communities are bearing the burden of inefficiencies in the regional transportation system. To address this, they propose:
3. Removing two lanes from Northwest Highway so that it primarily serves local residents and discourages regional trips from congesting the road or creating safety issues for pedestrians.
4. Replacing the overbuilt interchange at Northwest Hwy, Harry Hines, and Spur 482 with something that is less intrusive. This would help reduce congestion on Northwest Highway at Bachman Lake, remove barriers between neighborhoods, and enable economic development by opening land for development.
Airport Alternate Entrance
A northern entrance to the airport is still a thing. NCTCOG proposed the idea of expanding Shorecrest from 2 lanes to 4 lanes and connecting it to I-35E. They also proposed some sort of interchange between Shorecrest and Northwest Highway, likely where the Webb Chapel or Lemmon bridges are now.
In short, the NCTCOG presented a compromise that gives the airport its desired northern entrance without building a bridge across Bachman Lake. But this seems like replacing one overbuilt “mini-freeway” at Northwest Highway with another on Shorecrest.
NCTCOG staff also shared traffic modeling showing potential benefits to the area, but several attendees (including Board members of the Friends of Bachman Lake) pointed out issues with the results. The traffic reductions on Mockingbird Lane basically assumes that drivers trying to reach the Airport from the Dallas North Tollway will instead take I-635 to I-35, then exit for the new Shorecrest entry.
The Airport has reminded us several times that most northern traffic comes from Collin and Denton County suburbs that reach Love Field from the Dallas North Tollway. Since a great share of the region’s employment and residential growth will happen along the Tollway corridor, we wonder if this idea would have negative impacts on our neighbors on Mockingbird Lane.
The first four proposals were thought-provoking and worth exploring to improve quality of life of the community. However, we think getting the airport entrance wrong could create a greater negative impact on the community than the positive benefits of a land bridge or recreational island. Having visibility to what is being analyzed is fantastic and we should use the opportunity to provide commentary and feedback.
Items that we think NCTCoG needs to provide details on:
Improved traffic modeling that more accurately factors in the importance of the Dallas North Tollway to northern traffic.
Traffic modeling of a western airport entrance that would cross Denton Drive and connect to I-35 via Burbank/Regal Row. Putting an entrance here would also create opportunities to connect to the DART Burbank Station – its original purpose before the City reallocated funds after a people mover directly to Love Field terminals was deemed too costly.
An explanation and traffic modeling of what they meant by an airport exit towards Lemmon Ave bridge at Shorecrest.
An answer to why the 4-lane Northwest Highway concept is limited to the area by the lake. Can it not be extended to Harry Hines where the “spaghetti” interchange will be replaced? What about eastbound to the Tollway or Preston?