Tell the Feds What You Think About Trinity Toll Road

As part of the federal government’s evaluation of the Trinity Toll Road, they must take public comment. If you didn’t get a chance to attend the “public hearing” last month, you can still provide written comment (which will be included in the public record) through June 30. Here’s the NTTA press release: Continue reading

Last Night’s Trinity Meeting

Last night, the North Texas Tollway Authority and Texas Dept. of Transportation held a “public hearing” on the location for the Trinity Toll Road. I put “public hearing” in quotes because (1) you can’t see me doing air quotes, which are obnoxious anyway, and (2) it was anything but a public hearing.

I won’t use the word “sham” because it’s loaded and a little heavy-handed. But here’s what happened: Continue reading

Trinity Toll Road Public Hearing on Tuesday, May 5

In recent months, several facts have come to light that suggest that Dallas should reconsider its decision to locate the Trinity Toll Road in our city’s floodway.

First, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that Dallas’ levees failed to meet their new, post-Katrina safety standards. The Corps also discovered sand in our levees, which presents a problem for toll road construction. Further, the Corps indicated concerns about allowing the toll road’s large concrete piers to pierce the levees, which could weaken them.

In addition, the North Texas Tollway Authority acknowledged that there is a billion dollar funding gap for the toll road. No additional funding sources have been identified. Continue reading

Plan B Clarification: Connecting I-20 to Loop 12 Via Walton Walker

I’ve gotten quite a bit of positive feedback from my Trinity River Project Plan B editorial in today’s DMN, but a couple of people have pointed out that my editorial is a bit unclear on one point.

In the editorial, I recommend we close the I-635 loop on the west side of the city by linking the western portion of Loop 12 to I-20. A couple of folks were quick to point out the fact that Loop 12 already connects to I-20 via Spur 408.

They are correct, of course, but I was proposing a different route, one along Walton Walker Boulevard. Continue reading

Trinity Project: It’s Time for Plan B

I’ve written an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News describing “Plan B” for the Trinity Project:

Join me at a Dallas City Council meeting five years from now:

It’s 2014. Under Mayor Tom Leppert’s plan, the Trinity toll road should have opened last year, but its construction hasn’t even begun. It remains mired in federal safety analyses due to concerns about its effect on Dallas’ levees. The North Texas Tollway Authority bowed out in early 2011 when it determined it could not fund the now $2.4 billion project.

City staff reluctantly informs the council and mayor that there is no way to bridge the enormous funding gap. The buckets of money once touted to finance the road have been spent on other more critical transportation needs in the region. Less than half of the city’s $84 million in bond funds for the road remains. Continue reading

We Must Fix Our Levees NOW

I was very concerned to see that the U.S. Corps of Engineers has deemed the safety of Dallas’ levees “unacceptable.” The Corps revised their safety standards after the Katrina tragedy, and re-evaluated Dallas’ levees under this new system. They announced the results of their review yesterday.

I was surprised that our levees failed to meet the new standards since the Mayor just got back from lobbying our Congressional delegation to pressure the Corps into speeding up their safety evaluation of the Trinity toll road, which is to be built within the levees. If you’ve been following this issue, you know that no major road like this has ever been built within a levee system. Knowing that our levees do not meet the Corps’ new safety standards, I think it’s irresponsible to lobby the Corps to speed up what should be a thoughtful, deliberate safety review of an untested engineering design like the toll road. Rushing to pour millions of tons of concrete into an already unsafe levee system is a dangerous plan that could have dire consequences. Continue reading