Task Force Talks Traffic, Creates Congestion


On Monday night, members of the task force charged with steering future development around Preston Center had some fun. In fact, they partied like it’s 1989.

That year is when the city of Dallas adopted recommendations from the Preston Center Area Transition Study, which focused on new regulations in the area in response to new city zoning codes.

As part of that study, recommendations included a comprehensive traffic study for Preston Center every five years. In addition, the second level of the city-owned public parking garage in the aging retail center would be reserved for employees of the surrounding businesses.

But no traffic studies were ever commissioned. And nobody followed through on enforcement of the suggested parking guidelines.

Flash forward 26 years, and the 13 members of the Northwest Highway and Preston Road Area Plan Task Force were discussing — you guessed it — what to do about traffic and the parking garage.

“I don’t know why it didn’t happen. That’s disconcerting,” said Dallas council member Jennifer Gates, who is leading the development of the area plan. “But we don’t need to point fingers. We need to come together and move forward.”

The task force includes residents and business leaders from Preston Center and the surrounding areas. Their basic goal during the next several months is to develop a vision to shape the future of an area covering more than 1,600 acres.

Monday’s meeting — held in front of an overflow crowd at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, just down the hall from where famed author Fannie Flagg was signing books — was quite a page-turner.

We’ll have much more later. But for now, here are some of the other highlights:

  • The skybridge proposed by Crow Holdings to link the second floor of a retail building to the top level of the garage, in order to lure a Tom Thumb supermarket to the space, is still a very contentious issue. Task-force members seem split on the idea, just like the members of the Dallas Plan Commission, who gave the concept their endorsement by a narrow 7-6 vote in March. A council vote on the special-use permit likely will be set for early June.
  • TxDOT will begin construction next year on its project to install additional left-turn lanes in both directions from Northwest Highway on to Preston. The effort will narrow the medians and involve an upgrade and replacement of the current traffic signals. It will be similar to the fledgling project at the intersection of Preston and Royal Lane, hopefully with much better execution.
  • Since no city funds are being used for the study, Gates is still soliciting $100,000 from the community to supplement the $250,000 already put forth by the North Central Texas Council of Governments. That would help to hire a consultant and cover other fees.

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