Trinity Toll Road Update

Just a few updates on the Trinity Toll Road, for those playing along at home:

First up, excerpts from Michael Lindenberger’s article in the Dallas Morning News, “U.S. postpones decision on Trinity toll road to evaluate levee problems”:

Problems with the Trinity River levees have prompted the Federal Highway Administration to postpone a decision about where to build the controversial Trinity toll road….The agency will take until April or May reviewing how the levees’ problems could affect the toll road’s cost or environmental impact….On the toll road, [FHWA Texas Division Chief Janice] Brown said, the FHWA will weigh any additional costs associated with putting the road between the levees when it issues its final decision….”Additional costs will be a factor,” Brown said. “But we don’t yet know how much more the road will cost as a result of the levees.” If costs for building the road between the levees become too high, that could prompt the agency to order the route changed or cancel it altogether.

The FHWA’s new study comes after the agency spent years evaluating the toll road’s alternative routes as part of its draft environmental impact statement….

Once the new report is issued, the FHWA will open a period of public comment – a lengthy process that requires the agency and its partners, including the North Texas Tollway Authority, to respond to every comment related to the proposed toll road. Such responses can take months, or longer, depending on their volume and complexity. Continue reading

Corps Report Much More Damning Than City Admits

At yesterday’s briefing on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ report on Dallas’ levees, city staff and the mayor downplayed the gravity of the Corps’ findings that our levees have critical failures and have been cited as “unacceptable.” The consequences of this report are extremely serious, but you wouldn’t know that by listening to the city.

Michael Lindenberger at the DMN’s transportation blog has a great run-down of the Corps’ more serious findings and their repercussions moving forward. Continue reading

UPDATED: Corps’ Levee Report Reveals Multiple Failures

The Corps of Engineers just released their report analyzing the safety of Dallas’ levees. The news is not good. See Dallas Morning News Transportation Blog for details: DMN’s Corps to City: Trinity Levees failures are extreme, could prompt FEMA action

We must fix our levees immediately. We cannot let the toll road continue to delay our levee improvements.

UPDATE: Here is a link to part of the Corps’ report.

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