Trinity Toll Road Update: Deja Vu All Over Again

Last year, Larry Beasley presented the “Dream Team’s” Charrette Report to the Council. The Report rejected Alternative 3C’s design for the Trinity Parkway and called for a smaller, slower park road. For the past eight months, a technical design team has been further engineering plans for the road.

For the past two months, the Trinity Parkway Advisory Committee has been meeting behind closed doors to review the resulting technical design of the Trinity Parkway. Councilmember Sandy Greyson and former NTTA Chair Jere Thompson were appointed by the mayor to lead the committee. They each appointed three other members: Councilmember Greyson appointed me, Rep. Rafael Anchia, and Bob Meckfessel. Mr. Thompson appointed Ambassador Ron Kirk, Chancellor Lee Jackson, and Mary Ceverha. Our task was to advise the council as to whether the technical design accurately followed the original Charrette Vision.

The Advisory Committee’s work is completed and today the Committee made presentations to the Dallas City Council Transportation and Trinity River Committee. Our Committee was not in agreement. Rep. Rafael Anchia and I presented our conclusions. You can read our report and read our statement to the committee.

To cut to the chase: Last year we thought we were (finally) getting a low-speed, meandering park access road. Instead, according to the technical design, we are getting a highway.

The design and geometry of the road will allow for high speeds: the meanders have been straightened, the lanes widened, the deceleration lanes to parking areas lengthened, and the shoulders turned from grass to gravel. At every decision tree, at every fork in the road, design choices were made to make the road straighter, wider, longer, and faster. (Check out the animation and read the briefing to the council committee.)

At the conclusion of the presentations, we were glad that the committee agreed that the public should (finally) have the opportunity to weigh in on this project. The council committee wants more public input before the road moves to 65% design. But the chair of the committee, Councilmember Lee Kleinman, stated that he wanted a “brief” period of public input, “like 30 days.”

Your voices will be very important in this conversation. We have seen this all before. This is the Balanced Vision Plan round 2.

More to come….

Angela

2007 Trinity Referendum Petition Ordinance Language

ORDINANCE NO. ________

An ordinance amending CHAPTER 32, “PARKS AND WATER RESERVOIRS,” of the Dallas City Code, by creating a new Article VII, “Trinity River Greenbelt,” comprising Section 32-84 of said chapter; prohibiting certain roadways within the Trinity River levees; prohibiting the expenditure of funds for certain roadways within the Trinity River levees; providing for enforcement by suit for injunctive or declaratory relief; providing a penalty not to exceed $500; providing a saving clause; providing a severability clause; and providing an effective date.

WHEREAS, the Trinity River Corridor is among Dallas’ greatest natural assets; and

WHEREAS, in 1998 voters approved $246 million in City of Dallas bond funds to improve the Trinity River Corridor, including transforming the Downtown portion into a premier urban park, improving floodway protections, and constructing the Trinity Parkway; and

WHEREAS, the Trinity Parkway was envisioned as a low-speed reliever route that would provide direct access to the park and would be built within the Trinity River levees; and

WHEREAS, the Trinity Parkway has changed significantly from what voters approved in 1998, to wit: it has become a high-speed toll road, direct access to the park has been eliminated, it is nearly $600 million over budget, its proposed location has been moved farther into the park area thus eliminating substantial amounts of parkland, and its location in the floodway would make it susceptible to flooding; and

WHEREAS, locating such a toll road in the Downtown Trinity Park would have a significant, damaging effect on the quality of the Downtown Trinity Park for generations to come; and

WHEREAS, this ordinance was submitted by petition to the City Council, and was passed by the City Council or was submitted to the voters of the City of Dallas at an election held pursuant to Chapter XVIII, Sections 11 through 15, of the Charter of the City of Dallas, and was duly adopted by the voters at said election;

Now, therefore, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OR CITIZENS OF THE CITY OF DALLAS:

SECTION 1. That a new Article VII, “Trinity River Greenbelt,” comprising Section 32-84, “Road Construction, Improvement, and Maintenance Within Trinity River Levees,” is added to CHAPTER 32, “PARKS AND WATER RESERVOIRS,” of the Dallas City Code, to read as follows:

“ARTICLE VII.

TRINITY RIVER GREENBELT.

SEC. 32-84. ROAD CONSTRUCTION, IMPROVEMENT, AND MAINTENANCE WITHIN TRINITY RIVER LEVEES.

(a) No person shall construct, maintain, or improve any roadway, or portion thereof, horizontally situated between the respective crests of the Trinity River levees, including those levees in the Dallas Floodway Extension Project, between Westmoreland Road/Mockingbird Lane on the north and Interstate 45 on the south.

(b) No person shall directly or indirectly expend funds of the City or of any person for the construction, improvement, or maintenance of any roadway, or portion thereof, horizontally situated between the respective crests of the Trinity River levees, including those levees in the Dallas Floodway Extension Project, between Westmoreland Road/Mockingbird Lane on the north and Interstate 45 on the south.

(c) Subsections (a) and (b) do not apply to:

(1) a roadway that crosses the entirety of the Trinity River floodplain between the crests of the levees and that was fully constructed and open to the public on or before the effective date of this ordinance;

(2) a roadway that perpendicularly crosses the entirety of the Trinity River floodplain between the crests of the levees;

(3) a roadway consisting of no more than two travel lanes in each direction, used for access to points within the Trinity River levees, and having a maximum speed limit not to exceed thirty-five (35) miles per hour; or

(4) a roadway consisting of no more than two travel lanes, situated at or within fifty (50) feet of the crest of a levee, used solely for maintenance purposes, and not open to the general public for vehicular use.

(d) In this section:

(1) a roadway crosses “perpendicularly” when the straight line between the point of intersection of the roadway with the crest of one levee and the point of intersection of the roadway with the crest of the other levee bears at an angle of at least seventy (70) degrees to the line tangent to the crest of each levee at the point of intersection of the roadway with the crest of that levee;

(2) the term “person”

(i) means any individual and any corporation (including any nonprofit corporation), estate, partnership, trust, unincorporated association, or other legal entity organized under the laws of any state or country; and

(ii) includes the United States of America or any agency thereof and the State of Texas or any agency thereof, and any person acting under the authority thereof, but only to the maximum extent that the City of Dallas may lawfully regulate the activities of such persons or entities occurring on the property subject to this ordinance;

(3) “roadway” means any street, alley, road, highway, tollway, turnpike, parkway, boulevard, avenue, bridge, viaduct, tunnel, underpass, overpass, or causeway open to use by motor vehicles; and

(4) “agency” means a board, commission, department, officer, political subdivision, or other agency or instrumentality in the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of government.

(e) In addition to all other enforcement mechanisms authorized by law, this ordinance may be enforced by a suit for injunctive or declaratory relief brought by any registered voter of the City of Dallas.”

SECTION 2. That a person violating a provision of this ordinance, upon conviction, is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.

SECTION 3. That CHAPTER 32, “PARKS AND WATER RESERVOIRS,” of the Dallas City Code is unaffected by this ordinance except insofar as said chapter is explicitly amended by this ordinance.

SECTION 4. That the terms and provisions of this ordinance are severable and are governed by Section 1-4 of CHAPTER 1 of the Dallas City Code, as amended. If the application of this ordinance to any person, entity, or circumstance is invalid, the invalidity does not affect other applications of the ordinance that can be given effect without the invalid application, since the same would have been enacted by the City Council or the citizens of Dallas without regard to any such invalid application.

SECTION 5. That in the event this ordinance is adopted by the City Council, it shall take effect immediately from and after its passage and publication in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of the City of Dallas, and in the event this ordinance is adopted by the citizens of Dallas in an election called for that purpose, it shall take effect immediately after the canvass of the election in which it is adopted, in accordance

Dallas Is Going To Kill Conservation Districts

Last month, I wrote this in the Lakewood Advocate about the city’s current effort to rewrite Dallas’ conservation district ordinance and the damage it will do to historic preservation. Read the city’s proposal.  I’ve put together this comparison chart to highlight the differences between the current CD formation process and the city’s proposed changes.

Today the City Plan Commission is being briefed on this proposal.  I sent this letter to Plan Commissioners:

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Why SOPS Is Losing Me

You know, I was really trying to keep an open mind about the Support Our Public Schools campaign to make DISD a “home rule” district.  (You can read my initial thoughts on the topic in this month’s Lakewood Advocate Magazine.)  I liked the idea of an open, honest, public conversation about the pros and cons of home rule, and who doesn’t love a good referendum?  I particularly liked the idea of creating self-regulated sub-districts within DISD, so East Dallas could have its own school district.

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