- The City of Dallas plans to begin adding smart street projects within a year as a part of future projects to take down some of its elevated freeways.
- Director of Transportation Michael Rogers told Smart Cities Dive in an interview the smart streets will have technology such as data-driven stoplights that can be bypassed by buses, sensors to detect pedestrians and cyclists, and dedicated lanes that, in time, can be used by autonomous vehicles (AVs).
- Rogers said any potential projects are in an "initial phase," but that the city is hopeful of engaging with the private sector to help with funding, as well as applying for grants.
Rogers said the plan is to take down some freeways and remake the streets into boulevards, which presents the "perfect opportunity to provide smart corridors." Previously, the Coalition for a New Dallas has said the elevated freeways throughout the city have reduced land values and discouraged investment while causing traffic congestion. Instead, Rogers said he hopes the remade streets "provide smarter, reliable transportation and mobility options," and cut down on commute times.
Another project floated in Dallas Innovates is a plan to install technology in the street that would charge electric vehicles (EVs) as they drive, similar to something that has been built in China. Such an innovative plan would be impactful, especially with limited space and scope to dramatically alter infrastructure.
And while Rogers said eventually dedicated lanes could be used by AVs, such a plan could be phased in by letting regular buses use them initially, then expanding their scope as the technology takes hold. "That's why we want to be able to have these dedicated lanes for future use and for future technology types of purposes," he said. "We see there with the evolution that dedicated bus lanes can come in right away, as soon as we finish up with projects."
Questions remain about the funding for these smart street projects, but Rogers said if they can be combined with existing work already planned by the city’s transportation department, that will be the best way to proceed. "How a lot of this came about is, as we were reviewing our plans and looking at some of these locations where some of these existing projects are taking place, it's like, 'Are we really going to achieve what we thought we were going to achieve by just doing a traditional road project?' The answer is no," he said.