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.