Project Pegasus is intended to transform the two major Interstate Highways directly serving Downtown Dallas, by totally redesigning IH 30 from Sylvan Avenue to IH 45, and IH 35E from Eighth Street to Empire Central Drive (north of SH183).

Pegasus, the mythological flying horse is a symbol often associated with downtown Dallas. In the early-20th century, the Magnolia Petroleum Building was constructed as the tallest building in downtown Dallas. With the flying red Pegasus on top, a future Dallas landmark was born. Through recent community efforts, the Pegasus was restored to continue its aerial reign as a shining beacon in the nighttime Dallas sky.

Similarly, the aging freeways which bypass downtown Dallas need to be rebuilt and restored to operate more smoothly and efficiently. With this in mind, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is initiating the challenging task of redesigning IH 30 and IH 35E. TxDOT wants to work alongside the community to develop the new downtown freeway design. Symbolizing this redefining opportunity and as a means of distinguishing the project, TxDOT is launching 'PROJECT PEGASUS...Transforming Our Downtown Freeways'.


PROJECT PEGASUS focuses on the IH 30/IH 35E interchange on the western edge of downtown Dallas, locally known as the 'Mixmaster'; the depressed portion of IH 30 south of downtown, locally known as the 'Canyon'; and the portion of IH 35E from the Mixmaster to SH 183, also referred to as 'Lower Stemmons'.

The Canyon, Mixmaster, and Lower Stemmons freeways are critically congested and operate in stop-and-go traffic every business day. Traffic accidents and congestion delays occur on a frequent basis. The Mixmaster received national notoriety and dubious distinction by being named as one of the top ten 'Worst Commuting Bottlenecks' in the nation by the American Automobile Association.

Simply stated, the transportation problems are as follows:

  1. There are not enough freeway lanes or city streets in the Canyon/Mixmaster to both accommodate and manage the traffic volumes flowing north-south (generally along IH 35E) and east-west (generally along IH30). This is most evident in the morning and evening weekday rush hours. Heavy traffic flows northbound and westbound in the morning hours, and southbound and eastbound in the evening hours. On average days, bumper-to-bumper traffic is evident for more than six (6) hours on the freeways. Speeds average approximately 20 miles per hour.
  1. The traffic problems in the Canyon/Mixmaster are worsened by the outdated, geometric layout of the main travel lanes, service roads, ramps, and surface streets in the area, all of which fail to properly provide for the routes and destinations of current-day travelers. Secondary problems include forced lane changes, abrupt and unexpected merges, weaves and exits, and poor access for emergency vehicle response. Additionally, the Mixmaster is missing direct connections from eastbound IH30 to southbound IH35E and from northbound IH 35E to westbound IH30.

Traffic problems in the area are the result of many causes, including high regional population growth, changing employment patterns, lack of alternative routes, increasing two-worker household (trips), and high use of single-occupant vehicles. These problems result in many effects, including slow travel speeds, extended hours of congestion, increases in both accidents and air pollution, as well as a particular local concern; poor attraction of business and/or development to the area.

Congestion within the region also slows travel for many miles along the radial freeways feeding into the downtown area, such as IH 35E (Stemmons and South R.L. Thornton Freeways), US 75 (North Central Expressway), and IH 30 (Tom Landry Highway and East R.L. Thornton Freeway). If the downtown congestion dilemma is not solved, the bumper-to-bumper conditions are forecast to worsen to nearly 9 hours of congestion each weekday, resulting in an actual overlap of the morning and evening peak-hour flows. In other words, continuous congestion throughout each workday, regardless of travel direction. However this problem is not isolated, nor independent. Without a transportation solution to the downtown freeway congestion, proposals and/or designs for improving the outlying segments of IH 30 and IH 35E (feeding into the same downtown bottleneck) will not be effective, and thus cannot be implemented.

Current Design

Originally designed in the 1950's, the Canyon, Mixmaster, and Lower Stemmons freeways were constructed between 1958 and 1962. At that time, downtown Dallas was the primary destination of the majority of local freeway travelers. So much so, that the adjacent freeway system was designed accordingly. Planners and designers must now attempt to solve the demands of current-day travel patterns, the least of which entails the fact that 4 out of every 5 travelers now remain on the freeways and bypass downtown Dallas.

No significant improvements to roadway capacity have been made since the freeways were originally constructed. Minor improvements such as converting the inside shoulders to travel lanes were made, but are considered interim improvements until a long-term solution can be provided.

The design standards for freeways and Interstate Highways have changed since the roadways were originally constructed. In many locations, ramps do not have adequate acceleration or deceleration lengths, interchanges and ramps are too close together, bridges have limited vertical and horizontal clearances, and the freeway has poor sight distances.

Traffic problems are made worse by the layout of main lanes, service roads, ramps, and surface streets in the area, which do not properly provide for the major traffic demand routes and destinations. Forced lane changes, abrupt and unexpected merges, short weaves and quick exits compound the problems.

More people means more cars...

Population of the five-county Dallas-Fort Worth region increased dramatically between 1960 and 2000. In 1960, the population of Dallas County was over 950,000 and the combined population of the five urban counties in North Central Texas (Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Collin, and Rockwall) was 1.63 million people. In 2000, the population of Dallas County was 2.22 million and the combined population of the five counties was 4.63 million people. This is more than a doubling of the Dallas County population in 40 years. The North Central Texas Council of Governments estimates that the region's population will double within the next 20 years.

Traffic on IH 30 and IH 35E has increased at a rate of 1 to 5 percent each year. In 1999, over 155,000 vehicles a day traveled the Canyon, with 286,000 vehicles utilizing IH 35E, just south of the Dallas North Tollway.

The Canyon, Mixmaster and Lower Stemmons corridors were studied as part of the Trinity Parkway Corridor Major Transportation Investment Study (MTIS) conducted from 1996 to 1998. The purpose of the MTIS was to develop a solution to the congestion in the IH 30 Canyon and IH 35E/IH 30 Mixmaster interchange near downtown Dallas and adjacent to the Trinity River Corridor. The project evaluated numerous travel modes; considered over 40 improvement alternatives; included conceptual design, traffic analysis, and environmental studies; and included an extensive public and agency involvement program.

The final MTIS recommendation included over $1 billion in multi-modal transportation improvements to the Mixmaster interchange and IH 30 and IH 35E freeways, extending the Spur 366 (Woodall Rodgers Freeway), high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, a new location parkway/reliever route, light rail, bicycle and pedestrian improvements, Intelligent Transportation Systems, and employer trip reduction programs. The MTIS recommendation was unanimously approved by the Dallas City Council, Dallas County Commissioners Court, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Board, and North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) Regional Transportation Council, and endorsed by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

It would be difficult for one agency to design and built all of the recommended improvements. Several elements of the recommendation are being studied further by the agencies that will be responsible for building, operating, and maintaining them. For example, DART is currently preparing the environmental studies and preliminary engineering for the light rail element, known as the Northwest Corridor. The North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) is preparing the environmental studies and preliminary engineering for the new location parkway/reliever route, known as the Trinity Parkway. And Project Pegasus will address improvements to the existing Mixmaster interchange and IH 30 and IH 35E freeways, including accompanying high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, Intelligent Transportation systems (ITS), bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and Employer Trip Reduction (ETR) elements.

The primary objective of Project Pegasus is to relieve traffic congestion along IH 30, IH 35E, and throughout the Mixmaster interchange. The goals for the project include:

  • Maximizing the traffic carrying capacity of the freeway system by integrating high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), Transportation Systems Management (TSM), and TDM elements into the design;
  • Minimizing the need for additional right-of-way;
  • Providing more reliable transportation facilities by decreasing congestion and travel times;
  • Improving interregional connections to existing and proposed roadways and transit facilities;
  • Enhancing travel and accessibility to downtown Dallas, major employment areas and activity centers within the corridor;
  • Enhancing bicycle and pedestrian access across the facilities;
  • Integrating urban design elements to reflect the character and location of the surrounding communities;
  • Developing a technically and financially feasible solution.