Ed Okpa on the Trinity River Toll Road And Why He's Never Mentioned in The Dallas News

edwardokpa11.jpg
Edward Okpa
Since last week's piece in The News about David Kunkle, Ron Natinsky and Mike Rawlings's thoughts on the Trinity River toll road is behind the pay levee, allow me to summarize: Natinsky's still very much for it; Kunkle's ain't at all interested, and Rawlings is taking the ol' wait-n-see. But, see, that's just three Dallas mayoral candidates queries, and last I looked there was a fourth running: Edward Okpa -- a perennial candidate, a Real Estate Academic Initiative at Harvard University alum and the Nigerian immigrant who, three years ago, found out how awful local politics can be when, as Jim wrote at the time, he got "slimed in the whole Dallas Area Rapid Transit board appointment process."

It's not the only time Okpa has been left out of mayoral-race recaps this short season; he's not in today's throat-clearing coalition-building round-up either. Which is, perhaps, to be expected: He didn't fare well in his two previous runs, coming in third outta five in '03 and garnering but 429 last-place votes four years later, and is running this time around against a sitting council member, a Park Board prez with the Citizens Council's blessing and the former Dallas Police chief. Then again, how's an unknown supposed to get known when the only daily paper in town ignores him altogether?

"They're biased," Okpa tells Unfair Park. "They never even called me on the Trinity River. I spoke to an editor there and said, 'How can your paper be fair when you don't even ask me?'"

So, we did: Where do you stand on the Trinity River toll road?

"The challenge with the Trinity River is we don't even know which agency we need to speak with about funding it," he says. "One of the challenges is funding, and if using tolls is what will get it done, as opposed to the traditional way we've funded rights of way, that may be the best option. Then 20, 30 years later, once the revenue is realized and we're able to pay off the capital improvements, it stops being a toll road. Because right now, we'll wait at least another 10 years to get money from TxDOT. But we've wasted all this money paying all these consultants to tell us what we already know."

So, then, he's still in support of a toll road between the levees?

"That's an engineering action. If the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers thinks it will create a problem, we have to move it out of the levees. But if they think it'll work, then we should do it. So, yes, I'm for the road, but it depends on how you can best relieve the congestion in the canyon. But we haven't been told the options: If you do it with public funding, this is what will happen; if you do it with private money, this is what will happen; if you do it with tolls, this is what will happen. Any capital project has to be dollar-specific. And so when you look at the capital investment and then look at your revenue and deduct all the expenses, what is the return on investment for the Trinity River toll road?"

"I'm for a road in the Trinity River because of the impact to the surrounding community and its impact on alleviating congestion in the canyon, but we have to say: 'It's going to cost $1 billion, we project this many cars, we'll project this kind of revenue.' We have to develop funding to retire the debt. Look at the Thames in London. You pay toward that river if you develop along the river. That will improve the land value, and we need to find a way to recapture that. It's about public improvement."

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Hasanmary
Hasanmary

Kunkle doesn't know shit. His opinions are thanks to Laura Miller and his reporter wife. Most of you don't want to admit it.

Worthyworthy_
Worthyworthy_

Ed has some good points and ideas...but the reason he's not getting any air time is because he doesn't have any established local group or prominent persons backing him...simple as that....politics is first and foremost who you align yourself with from the OUTSET...no matter how half baked and slim on substance your campaign speech is...you can get in office with the right backing from the right people/groups and with some good image packaging......on the other hand, you can actually have sound ideas that will be helpful to the people you hope to represent...but if you dont get backing you're no better positioned to get noticed than the next average rank and file person with a a "good idea"......

Guest
Guest

Thanks for finally giving Ed a voice.

JChan
JChan

Sheesh, where to start on this one. This guy's ignorance of the TRP and the Trinity Toll Road are profound.

The Powers That Be have been claiming since the beginning that the best way to pay for the road is as a Toll Road, so that we can get it done quicker. We all know how that's turned out -- not to mention a billion-dollar funding shortfall that the NTTA cannot cover. Making the road a Toll Road makes it bigger than the original version of the true parkway, because they NTTA has to force enough cars on the road to make it financially viable. They've since abandoned any semblance of this road paying for itself because of the cost escalations due to its location in our floodway.

And does this guy really think that the NTTA is going to give up all that revenue once the road has "paid for itself"? The Dallas North Tollway has paid for itself several times over now. The NTTA's mantra for the last 30 years is that they need to keep all of their roads as toll roads so they can "grow the system." That means that the Dallas North Tollway folks are paying for roads in Ft. Worth, Denton County, etc. They'll never make any of their roads free ever again.

And The Canyon. Why oh why doesn't anyone actually look at the plans and route for this road? It does NOTHING to relieve traffic in The Canyon. The road doesn't connect to I-30. At all. Anywhere. Project Pegasus is what will fix The Canyon and Mixmaster, but the city's focus on using the Toll Road as a reliever route for Pegasus construction has screwed us on Pegasus. If they'd gone ahead and done Pegasus, this whole conversation would be moot.

His last quote is so strange I don't even know where to begin. A Toll Road won't bring investment to the Trinity -- especially one that offers no access to the river. The PARK will bring investment to the Trinity.

This guy needs to admit that he knows jack shit about the toll road, and get educated. Then he can make another losing run for mayor as an informed candidate, at the very least.

db
db

Well said, but it appears that Mike Rawlings has a ways to go on his education as well if he thinks the intent of the toll road is to provide access to the "park".

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