How Dallas Tried to Improve Public Transportation and Hit a Roadblock

City officials extended the Big D’s trolley line into the Bishop Arts District but, in the process, installed a traffic signal smack in the middle of the sidewalk, leaving locals scratching their heads.

By Becky Fogel & Laura RiceJune 29, 2016 9:50 am

In the search for alternatives to congested traffic, Texans often celebrate alternatives but rarely embrace them. So when a decision was made to extend a streetcar trolley in Dallas, people applauded: A victory for public transport!

Upon closer inspection, however, it appears that transportation designers may have forgotten how people wanting to ride the trolley might need to board it first.

Robert Wilonskyreporter for the Dallas Morning News, says extending the trolley line to the Bishop Arts District meant installing more traffic lights for the trolley to navigate through traffic, like at the multiple-point intersection at Zang and Beckley.

“The base of the traffic signal takes up the width of the sidewalk,” he says, “which is the most uniquely Dallas thing we tend to do… So if you want to get around, on the sidewalk, you have to walk into the street.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– What happens when a solution creates a new problem

– The city’s plan for a “bulb-out” to extend the sidewalk around the impediment

– Why traffic signals still need to be on a pole, rather than strung on wires across the street