Support, at both federal and municipal levels, is in place for several Lake Highlands-area transportation projects, but we’ll have to make ourselves heard if we want them to get underway in this lifetime. 

A sketch by Omniplan shows imagined redevelopment near Skillman-635. An anticipated new bridge along Skillman could be the catalyst for improvement in the area, urban designers say. More here.

A sketch by Omniplan shows imagined redevelopment near Skillman-635. An anticipated new bridge along Skillman could be the catalyst for improvement in the area, urban designers say. More here.

Sign up for our newsletter!

* indicates required

District 10 councilman Adam McGough’s office Wednesday night blasted an email to Lake Highlands residents, alerting us to upcoming public meetings, by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, about transportation issues impacting our neighborhood, specifically the Skillman Gateway project, the I-635 sound wall and the I-635 East expansion.

“These meetings are recorded and public comments are used to justify the funding of certain projects,” he notes. “Your comments do make a difference. We need to speak loudly and with one voice to ensure the transportation needs affecting Lake Highlands and District 10 are a top priority.”

These meetings are not exactly convenient (here is the schedule) — in fact, the first one is Thursday in East Dallas (which, I realize, will probably be over by the time you read this) and the subsequent ones are in Lewisville and Arlington, respectively. But don’t let that stop you. “If you are unable to attend, the NCTCOG will accept written commentary up to 30 days after the meeting via this link,” McGough’s memo notes. “In addition, you can write emails and letters to your state and federal legislators and congress reps. (Find yours here and here.)”

So what are we supposed to be asking for?

“These are positions I have heard most frequently from residents of District 10,” McGough notes. “We support expediting the Skillman Gateway project, including increasing safety by straightening out the Skillman/LBJ/Audelia crossing. We support the signature bridge to provide a real gateway into our community and connect north of I-635 with south of I-635. We need the economic development and the additional opportunities for development this project will bring. Of course, I encourage you to make your opinion known, and I appreciate your feedback, but if you have not dug deep into these issues, these are some important points to consider.”

For more background on the above issues, read the Advocate feature “Neighborhood revitalization depends on fixing the Skillman-I-635 intersection — and this is why” and part two in our series on I-635 and Lake Highlands development.

Also, according to McGough, his constituents support expediting the sound wall project along I-635.

City of Garland

Sound wall along I-635. (City of Garland)

“Quality of life, property values, and individual peace of mind must be improved with the sound walls that have been promised for years,” he notes. “With increased congestion and traffic the issues have increased exponentially, and the proper height and length of the sound walls are essential.”

We also should insist that the LBJ East Expansion project be the highest-priority transportation project in the region, he notes. “We support the expansion even if it includes optional tolled express lanes from I-75 to Miller Road.”

The inclusion of those tolled lanes is possibly the single controversial item on this list of things for which we are asked to argue. However, McGough notes, “We understand that without the partial tolling of the optional express lanes, the project could  be delayed indefinitely, and this project is essential to our quality of life and mobility.”

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 4.29.20 PM

Even the representative (Cindy Burkett) who filed the bill to prevent the use of any tolls whatsoever told us (last summer) that: The clear alternative to adding tolled lanes is to accept a longer and more expensive construction period and that it is likely that representatives and their constituents will need to decide between a toll component and a longer, more expensive project.

He adds that “we need continuous frontage roads to help with access and provide opportunity for economic development to meet restaurant and retail needs.”

Finally, McGough brings up another interesting option for the Skillman-I-635 Gateway development that was not mentioned in our earlier feature — a park or “pedestrian cap,” which would look similar to Klyde Warren Park in Downtown Dallas.

As an area of the city in desperate need of recreational amenities, he adds, we should push for this green space.

Visit this page for a list of upcoming meetings and information on how to make your opinion heard. Or submit a comment or question here.