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What’s the Best Route to Dallas’ Fair Park? Highways vs. Surface Streets

Interstate 345, not the best route to the State Fair of Texas.  (photo by Scott Womack)
Interstate 345, not the best route to the State Fair of Texas. (photo by Scott Womack)

We’ve heard the hue and cry from those of you who insist that Interstate 345 can’t possibly be torn down because how on earth are drivers to get from Interstate 30 to U.S. Highway 75 without it. And, lord almighty, some have exclaimed, how do we expect anyone to get to the wonders of Fair Park without it?

Well, as has been pointed out on this blog before, I-345 isn’t even the best route to get to Fair Park from North Dallas, especially during the run of the State Fair each fall, when the highway is often backed up all the way from the 2nd Avenue exit of I-30 to Woodall Rodgers. And anyone who’s driven I-30 into or out of downtown during rush hour knows what a mess it usually is.

So we’ve decided to put an alternative to the test. Keep in mind that the primary alternate route we’ve chosen is just one of several surface streets that could be accessed to cross between these highways, and that if I-345 ever is removed another boulevard or two—providing an even better surface option than this one—would likely be created in its place. Also, we don’t know for certain how much additional traffic each of these side streets would be burdened with post-345. But we can’t road-test imaginary alternatives. We can only examine what we have to work with now.

Each of our drivers was asked to move along with the flow of traffic, not excessively speed, so that we could get an accurate reading of how long these trips take. Below we reveal our findings.

 

HEAT No. 1

When: Morning Rush Hour, 7:40 a.m.

The Course: Pizza Lounge to the Shell Station at the intersection of Knox and Central

The Routes:
Interstate 30 to Interstate 45 to U.S. Highway 75 to Knox-Henderson

vs.

Peak Street to (briefly) Lemmon Avenue to Haskell Avenue to Central Expressway (service road) to Knox-Henderson

The Combatants: Cristina Daglas vs. Matt Goodman

What Google Says: In normal traffic, highway route (4.3 miles) should take 6 minutes. Surface streets (3.8 miles) should take 10 minutes.

What Happened: Cristina hit slow-moving traffic on the entrance ramp to I-30. Her speed didn’t get above 30 mph until she neared the Knox-Henderson exit of U.S. 75. Meanwhile, Matt was forced to slow to 20 mph through multiple school zones and seemed to stop at nearly every red light along the route.

Cristina says: “It was miserable.”

Matt says: “I’m not sure that route could’ve been any slower at that time of day, too.”

RESULT: Matt arrived first, 13 minutes after departing. Cristina got there in 15 minutes.

 

HEAT NO. 2

When: Afternoon Rush Hour, 5:30 p.m.

The Course: Shell Station at the intersection of Knox and Central to Pizza Lounge

The Routes:
U.S. Highway 75 to Interstate 345 to Interstate 30 to 2nd Avenue to Parry Avenue

vs.

Central Expressway (service road) to Haskell Avenue to Parry Avenue

The Combatants: Matt Goodman vs. Bradford Pearson

Matt snapped a picture of this billboard during his drive, presumably to remind himself to buy tickets.
Matt snapped a picture of this billboard during his drive, presumably to remind himself to buy tickets.

What Google Says: In normal traffic, highway route (4.5 miles) should take 7 minutes. Surface streets (3.6 miles) should take 9 minutes.

What Happened: As soon as Matt hit came off the entrance ramp for U.S. 75 at Knox Street he hit backed-up traffic. It opened up a little and then slowed to a crawl once he hit I-345. The on-ramp to Interstate 30 was at a standstill. Meanwhile, Brad encountered slight traffic, but he was always moving.

Matt says: “I snapped a photo (at right) from the freeway because I felt safe to do it because I may as well have just put the car in park.”

Brad says: “In the time between when I finished and Goodman arrived, I listened to a very nice NPR piece about Quohog clams.”

RESULT: Brad won with a 12 minute, 12 second trip. Matt showed up after 15 minutes, 30 seconds.

 

HEAT NO. 3

When: Morning Rush Hour, 7:40 a.m.

The Course: Pizza Lounge to the Shell Station at the intersection of Knox and Central

The Routes:
Interstate 30 to Interstate 45 to U.S. Highway 75 to Knox-Henderson

vs.

Peak Street to (briefly) Lemmon Avenue to Haskell Avenue to Central Expressway (service road) to Knox-Henderson

The Combatants: Liz Johnstone vs. Peter Simek

What Google Says: In normal traffic, highway route (4.5 miles) should take 7 minutes. Surface streets (3.6 miles) should take 9 minutes.

What Happened: Traffic was surprisingly light for Liz. Her biggest aggravation was sitting through the light at Knox-Henderson twice while waiting to turn left. Peter, on the other hand, found traffic to be packed tightly (through still moving) south of Main Street along Peak. Then he hit a light in front of the Target on Haskell and had to wait through a full cycle before it changed again.

Liz says: “This early morning excursion allowed me to listen to the Postmodern Jukebox version of ‘We Can’t Stop’ approximately four times.”

Peter says: “Nothing really to report.”

RESULT: Liz proved that the highway route isn’t always the wrong option during rush hour, getting there in 13 minutes, 47 seconds. Peter took 15 minutes, 33 seconds.

 

VERDICT

That’s two out of three races in favor of the surface streets, with an average time advantage of 54 seconds.

24 comments on “What’s the Best Route to Dallas’ Fair Park? Highways vs. Surface Streets

  1. Does anyone at D have a BS degree? Some kind of background in science, or familiarity with the scientific method. Do you not understand that your “test” is completely meaningless, because post-tear down the traffic patterns would be different (i.e. much more traffic on surface streets thus slowing times)? Or do you just not care?

  2. It should also be obvious that while surface streets are a viable alternative during rush hour (as highway traffic will be operating below speed limits), the same drive would be faster via highways during non-rushhour traffic (when highways will be operating at (or honestly above) posted speed limits).

  3. Never claimed this was a scientific method. Thank you for ignoring the caveats I included.

  4. Having a BS degree is mandatory for D employees.

    Oh, wait, you meant a Bachelor of Science degree. Never mind.

  5. Yes, but since the primary concern over the future of I-345 is the fate of the commuters, we opted for rush hour testing as most significant.

  6. All of your caveats were in the direction of your test being insufficiently pro-surface street, unless I am missing them. If I am somehow missing an acknowledgment that overall capacity (post teardown) would be less than with I-345 (even with a new boulevard replacing it), then I apologize. But I don’t see it.

  7. Damn, you’re right. I’d deleted a line I’d intended to include. Re-added. Thanks,

  8. So basically. If I-345 was a thoroughfare it would move as fast, maybe even faster during rush hour than a hulking highway? My type A personality just can’t conceive of that. I would rather be parked on top of the highway percolating on my road rage about that idiot up ahead rather than having well timed stop lights swiftly directing traffic through that area. I mean if your on a freeway, for chrissakes, shouldn’t you be doing AT LEAST 55mph?!?!

  9. I just ask the editors of D Magazine kindly to remove this blog entry if people in Oklahoma ever get the Internet (or electricity, for that matter). I would hate for all those clueless Okies who sit on the freeway the second Saturday in October to figure out that you can get to the Cotton Bowl using surface streets, not only because it would slow my travel, but also because I just enjoy Okie misery.

  10. I agree its the most significant test. But the others situations aren’t irrelevant. A significant portion of my travel to the exburbs is visiting friends/relatives in off-peak times. That is a rare situation in which I actually LOVE highways.

  11. Nothing. But I know how to conduct tests (in a lab an otherwise). And I understand the limitations of statistics (e.g. the difference between causation and correlation). Which some people on this topic do not grasp. You looking at my CV online (repeatedly) is also pretty creepy.

  12. Off-peak hours we’d need to also look at how much longer swinging around I-30, up 35E and back across Woodall Rodgers to get to 75 would take. Google says it’s a four-minute difference.

  13. Well it was just the once, but you piqued my interest running around giving interviews and what not in your ‘father-knows-best’ tone.

  14. It must have been someone else talking about where I live. And it wasn’t an interview. I spend days writing that with Aren after getting repeatedly wound up on this blog.

  15. It must have been someone else talking about where I live. And it wasn’t an interview. I spent several nights writing that with Aren after getting repeatedly wound up on this blog.

  16. The fastest way to FP is I-45 to MLK. That will take you straight into an entrance or turn right onto RP Collum and around to all the lots on the south side. Very light traffic at the MLK exit. It does take awhile to turn into the lots, but it is far less congested than any iof the I-30 or adjacent surface streets. Please note that in a blog poat yesterday that your own editor lamented the long commute via side streets from her home to office. And that is with the freeways intact. So much for the theory of under-utilized surface streets.

  17. May I humbly plead that you horrible, horrible people start a D magazine traffic blog I can ignore? Call it something catchy, if you must. The RearEnder would be my suggestion.

  18. Finish the planned but shelved Haskell Boulevard from West Village/CityPlace to Fair Park. Oh and run the McKinney Avenue Trolley down the middle.

    I live in East Dallas so I will continue to go “the back way” and park where I don’t have to pay.

  19. Thank you Brett; in complete agreement. I ran through the comments on the last 5 traffic posts looking for this very comment.

  20. Shut up with this nonsense.

    To any Okies who may have discovered the Internet and are reading this, Mr. Lakewood is just kidding. There is no “back way” to Fair Park. There is no free parking within five miles of Fair Park. The only way to get to Fair Park is via I-30, and the only place to park is in official State Fair lots.

    Thank you.