El Paso, Texas, is taking steps to advance a proposed deck plaza over Interstate 10 in the city’s downtown. The city has selected the design and engineering firm that will lead the planning and design, but the development could be paired with widening the highway.
The Texas Department of Transportation began work on the Downtown 10 project in 2019 and is currently preparing an environmental impact statement. Construction could start in 2025, according to documents published by the state DOT in November. The agency cites traffic congestion, incident management issues and failure of the existing highway to meet current design standards as reasons to improve and widen the roadway.
When work began in 1969 on I-10 through El Paso, the below-grade highway disrupted the community. The 2,300-foot-long deck would reconnect those communities, creating a new public space. According to illustrations published by the Downtown Deck Plaza Foundation, the deck could include green space, athletic fields, pedestrian paths and other amenities.
“The City of El Paso will work closely with the Downtown Deck Plaza Foundation, an early advocate for a deck plaza over IH-10 in downtown, to engage stakeholders and the broader community in the planning and design of this transformative project,” said Yvette Hernandez, city engineer for the city of El Paso in a press release issued Tuesday by Stantec, the design and engineering firm selected to lead planning on the project.
The project has the support of the Paso del Norte Community Foundation, the Paso del Norte Health Foundation and the El Paso Chamber of Commerce. But according to the El Paso Times, some neighborhood groups question whether the deck plaza will truly benefit the low-income communities in the area and have voiced environmental concerns about widening the highway.