Did you know that Dallas has a canyon? But it’s not what you think. Curious Texas explains

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Did you know that Dallas has a canyon? But it’s not what you think. Curious Texas explains

Dallas has its small hills here and there, but the city is flat for the most part. Residents can usually see the Dallas’ skyscrapers miles from downtown if they get on high enough ground.

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The city’s iconic skyline was even the inspiration behind Dallas Independent School District’s Skyline High School. The school was named in 1969 based on its “striking view of downtown Dallas,” The Dallas Morning News reported at the time.

The downtown skyline is seen over Dallas Executive Airport and homes in the Red Bird area on Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Dallas.

If Dallas is so flat, what are traffic reporters referring to when they mention Dallas’ “canyon?” This stumped James McDonald who asked Curious Texas: What is the Canyon in Dallas? I hear it in traffic reports all of the time.

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His question is part of Curious Texas, an ongoing project from The News that invites readers to join in our reporting process. The idea is simple: You have questions, and our journalists are trained to track down answers.

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Tony Hartzel, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation, said the area referred to as “The Canyon” is the part of Interstate 30 that runs along the south side of downtown — separating downtown Dallas and the Cedars.

Traffic on Interstate 30 westbound moves near the Interstate 30 and 35E interchange in Dallas, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017.

“It got the nickname because, in the portion from roughly I-35 to I-45, the roadway is depressed and is much lower than its surroundings,” he wrote in an email. “That provides a canyon effect.”

Hartzel said he wasn’t aware of any passed legislation that may have given that portion of I-30 its nickname.

Cars driving on the newly completely R.L. Thornton Freeway on July 1966. (CLINT GRANT/The Dallas Morning News /Dallas Public Library – Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division)

The first people to pass through the new leg of the freeway were the family members of the late R.L. Thornton, Dallas’ former mayor for whom the freeway is named after, according to The News’ archives.

Dallas officials knew the massive project would cause problems for locals who were not accustomed to traveling through its new freeway system that included eleven entrances and exits within that 1.8 miles strip.

The view of Interstate 30 from the S. Harwood Street bridge on Saturday, June 18, 2016 in Dallas.

Flyers, radio commercials, billboards and other advertisements educated drivers how to navigate the freeway months before its construction was complete.

In recent years, TxDOT has considered the reconstructing “The Canyon,” causing mixed emotions from residents and business owners around the area.

Over the last several years, the Cedars’ former warehouse buildings have been transformed into luxury apartments and businesses, which has increased the number of people in the area. TxDOT’s proposed changes would add more sidewalk space to connect the neighborhood to downtown and other popular areas such as the Farmers Market.

Opponents of the plan have said in the past that the changes will lead to increased traffic in an already busy part of Dallas.

TxDOT has previously said the proposed changes to the Canyon are the first step to bringing Dallas’ neighborhood’s closer together as the city’s overall population continues to grow.

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