What Remains of Project Pegasus, For Now: Two Bridges. Says Hunt, This is Leppert's "Disaster."

Categories: Transportation
mcdermott.jpg
This is the Margaret McDermott signature bridge. And it's not part of TxDOT's plans to replace the I-30 bridge over the Trinity.
To follow up this morning's item on Project Pegasus, which has been all but left for dead on the side of the Mixmaster ...

I spoke earlier today with Bill Hale, P.E., the district engineer for the Dallas District of the Texas Department of Transportation, and he said that, yup, "based on the funding sources, there's no money to pay for it." He points out: Back in 2005, the Mixmaster-Canyon-Lower Stemmons redo was guesstimated to run $2.5 billion. Which would be a bargain today.

A little later, TxDOT spokesperson Cynthia Northup White called back to clarify the Channel 8 account: "I never said the project is dead," she said. "What we do is as much as we have funds to do. We continue to develop these projects." But she reiterated something Hale told me earlier: Two and only two pieces of the project will be salvaged -- the I-30 and I-35 bridges over the Trinity River. The rest -- including the much-clamored-for redo of S.M. Wright Freeway, otherwise known as the "Dead Man's Curve" that runs through Southern Dallas -- has been put on hold due to lack of funds.

"What we've done in the past several years has enabled us to pull out those bridges from Project Pegasus," White said. "We separated the S.M. Wright project from the Pegasus Project, and if we do get construction funds, we can proceed. But right now we don't have the funds to construct it. We're setting the groundwork so it'll be ready should the funds become available."

I'm still waiting on a call back from Linda Koop, head of the council's Transportation Committee, but Angela Hunt, who led the opposition to the Trinity River toll road and demanded the city instead move ahead with Pegasus and S.M. Wright, was not at all pleased when informed of the latest road closure involving S.M. Wright: "Messing around with this imaginary toll road got us to where we are today," she told Unfair Park this afternoon, "which is a complete transportation disaster."

McDermott_bridge_tinymodel2_Merten.jpg
Sam Merten
Remember when Sam took this picture of the Trinity model? Yeah. That was hilarious.
The I-30 bridge, you'll no doubt recall, is where the city wants to stick Santiago Calatrava's Margaret McDermott Bridge, which, long time ago, was supposed to be completed by 2009. And the city has always wanted the I-35 bridge to complete Calatrava's holy trinity with "inclined twin arches meeting on the highest point with a suspended cradle deck hanging from the arches."

Hale says both bridges need to be replaced sooner than later, and that there's some money available for that -- around $250 million statewide. The I-35 bridge, he says, will receive funding because of the condition it's in: "The substructure needs to be replaced at some point."

TxDOT, he says, hasn't received money for the I-30 bridge. And "if the city wants to make it a signature bridge, we'll allow them to put it in there, but it would be an an extra cost. But they haven't ID'd the dollars to cover that, so we're designing it as a normal structure."

He says there's no timeline in place for either, but it needs to be soon.

"We'll keep them maintained," he says. "We're spending more to make sure they're safe, but it gets more and more expensive. The deck on the 30, a few years ago we spent a milion and a half to fix those potholes. But we'd like to have the money in the next two years because otherwise we'll just keep spending to repair it."

TxDOT's White says, look, the days of the "full-out project" are past, at least for the foreseeable future. Instead, megaprojects like the Mixmaster redo will be picked apart and salvaged if and when the money shows back up.

"What I tried to make clear to Shelly Slater was road projects take place over many years," White says. "Even though we don't see funding on the horizon, we have to plan for the future, and the planning and design for many of these projects is ongoing. With Project Pegasus, there's been a couple of full-out projects that we're trying to pull out and take a bite-sized approach."

At which point we began discussing Tom Leppert and The Dallas Morning News' claims back in '07 that Project Pegasus would wither without the Trinity River toll road.

"When it comes to construction, you're well aware of how congested that area is already," she said. "If you have an area under construction, it exacerbates an already bad situation. If we could have a reliever route, that would assist to spare the pain of construction."

The Trinity River toll road, says White, was to have been that reliever route. (Though, as Schutze likes to say, they didn't need no relievers when they built the High Five. They just called 'em "detours.")

"Ya know, I distinctly remember Tom Leppert promising the citizens of Dallas buckets of money for transportation projects," says Hunt.

He sure did -- in February 2009, when it came to light that the Trinity toll way could cost around a billion more than the North Texas Tollway Authority could spare. He said: "That's a big number, but there are a lot of buckets [of funding] to dip into. We're absolutely committed to seeing this project through."

"I wish that Tom Leppert would help us find those buckets of money that are so well hidden even TxDOT can't find them," Hunt says. "If he has any time off between campaign appearances, I hope he'll help us find them, because the fact is his administration's singular focus on the toll road and the false claim the toll road had to be constructed before moving forward on Project Pegasus, that's what put us in this position. That's what is going to lock up downtown transportation congestion for years to come, and it's a disaster. And I put it squarely on his shoulders."
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56 comments
Ted Prill
Ted Prill

Leppert did a fine job as mayor - it's unfortunate some projects didn't come to fruition.

This blog is chock full of a bunch of haters - y'all are an angry bunch.

Jay D
Jay D

Getting screwed by a con-man makes people angry. You don't appear in the property records or directory listing for Dallas County Ted. Is this a paid gig for you?

TheMapman
TheMapman

The days of full-out projects are passed, unless you're Houston - then money magically appears to build a highway in the middle of nowhere.

If you want to be outraged, direct it at TxDOT and it's overwhelming favoritism of Houston over other Texas cities.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Part of a Mayor's job is to aggressively advocate on behalf of his City. Leppert chose to squander his political capital on the Trinity Tollroad project, which is perceived by most objective observers as a foolish boondoggle.

As a result, we were left with nothing.

MattL1
MattL1

Nobody has actually pointed out what Ms. Hunt said that was wrong, and I'm guessing that's because you can't. Was the toll road an unnecessary distraction? Yes. Is that whole mess of freeways a transportation disaster? Absolutely. Did Leppert promise buckets of money for transportation projects that isn't there anymore? Sure did. Is there going to be any change to downtown traffic for years to come? Doesn't look like it.

Someone also mentioned that they didn't know that she was an advocate for Project Pegasus, and therefore she really couldn't have been. The world doesn't work like that.

Another mentioned that because her side lost, she was wrong. Oh the extrapolations I can make from that line of thinking...

But in the end, this isn't about Hunt. This isn't even about Leppert. It's about the city leaders as a group attempting to put the desired (toll road and other pretty things) ahead of the necessary (Pegasus and other transportation fixes). Now we have neither and no money to do anything about it.

Who Ray
Who Ray

Concur completely. I buy the argument that they are ALL at fault.

MattL1
MattL1

And no, I do not work for Ms. Hunt. I've never even met the woman. I live in her district. That's all.

Austin Morgan
Austin Morgan

Every time I come on this blog, it's more of the Leppert bashing. Typically, that type of treatment is reserved for those making the most waves--and he'll soon be doing just that once he gets out in front of more Texans. Bottom-line: The man was a fantastic mayor, and led with fiscal discipline and openness--two things we don't see a whole lot of in D.C. these days...

I sincerely hope he continues to fight the good fight, because we'll all be calling him Senator soon if he sticks to his principles.

Jay
Jay

Then don't come here if you can't handle the truth.

"Fiscal discipline"? Really? Your mayor nuked this city for decades to come. The levy repairs will cripple Dallas financially, the Trinity toll road expenditures are 100% wasted, and the convention hotel will default.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

Okay, is ex-Mayor Tom actually paying these people?

Who Ray
Who Ray

.....must be. Doesn't even sound like they are talking about the same person.

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

"fiscal discipline"?

The man saddled Dallas with more debt than any other mayor in history!

Engmofo
Engmofo

Fiscal discipline & opennessBwhahahahh , no really , Bwhahahahh He'll be here all week folks , don't forget to tip your waitresses

Engmofo
Engmofo

Fiscal discipline & openness????Both of which applied to the Trinity Tollroad debacle

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

I'm sorry, you were saying???

Engmofo
Engmofo

TheHunted2 hours ago@ James - I am with you James. Angela has some skeletons that will be front and center soon. She thinks she is so smart, when actually she is an ego driven bit__ that will be exposed soon enough. Pray TellI loves me some skelingtons

Proggy
Proggy

This entire council needs to be replaced, not just one or two. Natinsky has big problems......Hunt has big problems........Carried-Away has big problems........the list goes on and on, but they keep politicking and campaigning with not a damn chance of bigger things because of the disaster we call "The City of Dallas."

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

This is so true. The council and staff has been so focused on the Trinity Troll Road that other projects (except the suspension bridges and city owned hotel) have taken a back burner, The Pegasus project too as every word from the city is that the project had that damned troll road as a must have center piece. But will the city council and staff be held accountable? NOOOOOOOOO.

Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk

Not that they'll need it, but I hope Leppert's opponents in the Senate primary jump all over this stuff.

IQ
IQ

The "beltway boys" are already licking their chops..........he's toast!

James
James

People keep saying Angela has been proven right time and time again... That's just bulsh! Her liberal agenda is right in step with people who read The Observer, but I think the reason she opted not to run for mayor is because she knew she had very little chance of winning. People on this blog HIGHLY overrate her. She lost time and time again to Leppert on key decisions and her public display for him has become childish. It's sad!

Kerr
Kerr

James, it looks like Brenda Marks set the cliche bar way too high for you but I'll give it a shot for you...um..."a rolling stone gather no moss". So take that, Brenda.

Now on to some substance. Where has Angela Hunt been snoozing since 2005? She's "behind" Pegasus? How did this sneak up on her? I know the Observer has a lot to keep track of, so they get a pass if this just pops up as a surprise to them, but where has Hunt been? Did she just "get behind" it for the good political vibes for her base, then go off and ride her bike somewhere? Now, of course, she gets to use it as a political talking point.

Hey, I'm all "behind" world peace. Ya'll wake me up if something breaks somewhere, Libya, the Middle East, anything I might need to know about.

Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk

Until Leppert came along, city council and mayoral races were non-partisan. Not sure where you're seeing a "liberal agenda," but if you have a place at the horseshoe, it's best to focus on the citizens of Dallas and their needs. Hunt has done that. Leppert did not.

Daniel
Daniel

Dude, since when is fiscal restraint and sober stewardship of tax dollars part of a "liberal agenda"?

And how has Tom Leppert been anything but childish and pettily vindictive to Angela Hunt? She has taken the high road public insult after public insult, too. She's very popular among her constituents, and has more name recognition citywide than the rest of the counsil combined. Deal with it. And if you don't live in her district, shut up while you're at it.

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

And what do you mean Hunt's liberal agenda? It's Leppert that took on massive debt for city spending. And Leppert planned to fund his parkway through Federal earmarks. What's more liberal than that? Now that Leppert is running for Federal office he talks as if he is a conservative by saying everything he did as mayor was wrong.

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

Just because she lost doesn't mean she wasn't right. Just because Leppert "won" doesn't mean the victory was good for the city.

OakParkStudio
OakParkStudio

Hunt wisely chose not to run for Mayor. She will continue to be much more effective as a council member.

As for losing to Leppert on key decisions...which ones are you speaking of? The failed Trinity River Plan he tried to force down our throats? This failed Pegasus deal? The iffy Convention Center Hotel?

The one she won...was the tax battle...that had poor Tommy picking up his toys from the sand box and going home to pout.

IQ
IQ

Dead on, James!

IQ
IQ

Let's see. Dwayne Carraway has been mayor for what, about a week? Earlier this week, the Statler Hilton was heralded as such good news. Now, this story. Sorry Dwayne, I'm afraid this "bad news" far outpaces the earlier good news. It's been a bumpy ride so far for the new mayor!

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

IQ these projects ran out of money long before D-waine became mayor. I have a feeling this announcement/slip intentionally wasn't made public until after Lie-pert's departure.

JT
JT

I would love for Dallas to have these bridges. But after looking at how bad road conditions are all over Dallas, it feels like we are tossing pearls to the swine.

Beautiful bridges with bumpy roads, truly a sign of the times.

TheHunted
TheHunted

@ James - I am with you James. Angela has some skeletons that will be front and center soon. She thinks she is so smart, when actually she is an ego driven bit__ that will be exposed soon enough.

BTW, she is not nearly as smart, as she has gotten some to believe.

Wait and see for yourself.

Who Ray
Who Ray

Sounds like "Nah, Nah, .........I told you so, I told you so......" The queen of District 14 needs to learn how to be gracious. We all get it, now get over yourself!

cp
cp

Wow, if I lived in the area near dead-man's curve, I'd feel pretty pissed and betrayed about getting asked time and again by my preacher to vote in favor of all these stupid projects in exchange for fixing something that should have never existed in the first place- it's called environmental racism and it's alive an well in South Dallas. It has to stop.

Oh wait, I do live near there. Yet another reason that I'm running for City Council.

Zenga Zenga
Zenga Zenga

So proud of you Ms. Pierce!!! As a longtime Unfair Parker I recognize you're honesty and integrity so good luck......Let us know how we can help you take Davis down!!!

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

CP -- whoever you are, great news. That district needs new independent smart voices who get the fact that for decades those neighborhoods have been treated like personal dumping grounds and used for the votes they could provide for white male North-of-the-Trinity mayors. I agree -- it has to stop.

cp
cp

Check out the Dallas Voice.

Courtney
Courtney

cp - can't believe I found out about your council run from a comment on Unfair Park! Wishing you lots of luck and enough votes to get you a seat around the horseshoe. -TG2

OakParkStudio
OakParkStudio

It's always interesting to me what basic principles we learn as a child that are so quickly forgotten into adulthood.

The story of The Little Red Hen seems appropriate here. Cast Hunt as The Little Red Hen who is doing all the work behind the scenes and Leppert & Company as all the barnyard animals who don't want to do any of the heavy lifting until the end when it is time to eat and then its all "Me, too", "Me, too."

Hunt has been a team of one against many of these high profile debacles in Dallas of late. Warning and then warning again of doom. She is being proved right...again and again.

My bet is on Hunt who will soon be eating the bread all by herself...as it should be.

James and those that criticize haven't followed Hunt very closely evidently. Whatever her reason for being absent during Leppert's Love-Fest exit...I applaud her walking out on all his pabulum puke.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I'd say Cassandra is the better analogy, but that implies complete ruin for Dallas, so I hope it's not true.

Puhleeze
Puhleeze

James, you are on the money. No push back here. Gripe less. Learn how to play well with others. And get some results.. Princess without portfolio.

RS1963
RS1963

So every council member should just go-along-to-get-along on every project, no matter how stupid or wasteful it is? I'm confused as to why an elected representative pointing out problems is somehow in the wrong - especially when practically everything they have said came out to be true?

You continue to support a mayor who basically lied through his teeth over and over again, and has left the city in worse financial shape than when he arrived? That makes no sense to me.

IQ
IQ

If she was half as good as they say, she would have been able to rally support for her views from her "colleagues", wouldn't she?

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

You meant he portfolio that she did have until Mayor Leppert removed her from every single committee because she made the grievous error of disagreeing with him?

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

Looks like Leppert's Sycophant Senate Spin Crew is coming out more and more.

James
James

I know I'm in the big minority here, but Hunt has become one giant "B"... Sorry, just can't stand her! The more she talks the more she needs to shut up. Again, I know I'm in the minority so lay into me...

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

James, I get the impression smart, independent fearless females make you nervous. That's so 20th century.

Coleman
Coleman

YEAH! she should go back to the kitchen and make us all sammiches, too!

miscellaneous stuff
miscellaneous stuff

Actually, Angela doesn't know how to cook. Never does it. They do takeout like every single night.

Guest
Guest

Really, take out? I thought she had better taste than that. Yuck.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Hunt is an earnest politician. I know James you'd rather have someone flatter your ignorance and offer you a great bumper sticker soundbite, but that ain't how politics really works. You should really resent the hucksters and appreciate the earnest politicians. They might not be the person you wanna drink with, but are your drinking buddies who you want running city hall?

Who Ray
Who Ray

"earnest politician"? Isn't that an oxymoron? I think so.

yeah, I said that
yeah, I said that

exactly. kind of like that throng surrounding Dastinky today at the plaza downtown. EWWW!

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