So NOW Can We Move Forward on Plan B?

On Monday, the Mayor held a press conference, flanked by Senator Hutchison and Congresswoman Johnson, to deftly spin the sorry state of our levees into a positive, uplifting tale called “The Path Forward.”

Here’s what happened: Dallas has got this man-made channel of greenspace called a “floodway” where all the run-off water in the city goes. If it goes down into a storm drain, it ends up in the Trinity Floodway. The floodway has these earthen mounds running along it — levees — that are intended to keep that water in the channel and prevent it from breaking through or topping over, resulting in injury to people and property.

Since Katrina, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — the arm of the federal government that inspects levees — has come up with new standards to try to avoid another Katrina-like catastrophe. As a result of their revised standards, the Corps recently gave Dallas’ levees an “unacceptable” rating. That’s a failing grade in Corps-ese. The consequence is that the city has to fix the levees to meet the Corps’ new standards. Continue reading

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Great Primer on the Trinity River Project

Ian Dille of the Texas Observer wrote an excellent article on the Trinity River Corridor Project. Read it here.

One of the most interesting points is Dille’s discussion with Alex Krieger, one of the urban designers brought in to develop the Trinity’s “Balanced Vision Plan” for then-Mayor Laura Miller:

Krieger tells me, “If [the Trinity Parkway’s] a highway, there is no balanced vision. It will be tragic. This is where I felt I was being used. We always felt the highway guys were just playing along with us, hoping we would go away, then they would expand the road again.”

Krieger imagined a road that functioned within the context of the park first, and within the city’s transportation plan second, and recalls that at one point he told state Department of Transportation and toll authority engineers, “there are already 19 lanes of traffic through Dallas. If that’s not enough, 23 won’t solve your problem either.”