When It Comes to the Trinity Toll Road, For Some, "Sorry" Seems to Be the Hardest Word

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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It's just beginning to dawn on me. I should be in heaven right now. I don't know why I'm not.

The sheer dumbness of the Trinity River toll road is now at long last apparent for all to see. It's blown sky high and is comin' down! And none of the people who foisted it off on the city can get out from under it in time. It's going to come down on their heads!

This stupid project has consumed not just treasure and time but the city's entire political focus since 1998. Much worse than the money wasted is the energy and will, two invaluable social commodities that could have been spent making Dallas a better place to live. It's sheer poetic justice that the people who erected this stupid political contraption can't escape its collapse.

But I can't find the poesy. I started thinking about all this earlier in the week after D Magazine publisher Wick Allison blasted me in a blog post because I had painted him as a champion of the ill-fated concept of putting a major highway out between the flood control levees along the river, right where it floods.

I had written that Allison, in August 2009, was still urging the mayor and others to ignore engineering problems with the proposed glug-glug-glug route for the toll road , press on regardless, damn the torpedoes and so on -- D booster talk, in other words.

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Wick and Jim, seen here in this 1983 photograph taken at Starck Club following a trip to the unisex bathroom with Skip Hollandsworth, at left
Allison said I had twisted his words. D Editor Tim Rogers wrote in another post
that his boss's support for the toll road "ended, as far as I can tell, in [March] 2009." Rogers offered up a piece in which Allison had admitted making a bunch of false claims about money for the road.

So in this week's Dallas Observer, our managing editor, Patrick Williams, wrote in his column called "Buzz" that he didn't understand why Rogers was telling us his boss had recanted, "as far as I can tell."

Why not walk in his office and ask him? Hey, Wick, now that it's obvious the toll road is absurdly too expensive, at least a billion bucks in the hole with nowhere to go for the money, and we know the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is never going to OK it on flood-safety grounds, do you now solemnly recant your view that it was the greatest thing since the virgin birth?

Rogers has to do that, right? And Allison has to respond. So ever since Williams's piece came out yesterday, I've been on pins and needles. Will Allison really and truly recant? How can he not, given the hole he's dug for himself now?

And then it struck me. He can't! No matter what! No matter how boneheaded and stupid an idea the toll road between the levees is revealed to be, Allison can't admit that it's a bad idea, because he can't afford to piss off the money.

The Citizens Council guys who have pushed for this road since the 1950s, the same ones who wanted a canal dug along the Trinity to make Dallas a seaport, will string up, cut loose and totally kneecap the first one of their hey-boys who admits how dumb this thing has been all along.

It's not just Allison. I can give you a list of people who can never ever admit under any circumstances that this thing has always been a laughable loser. Our new mayor, for example, Mike Rawlings: I watched him during the campaigns. You know he knows the truth, but he cannot spit it out.

Same for former Mayor Tom Leppert, who's running for the U.S. Senate. His problem is that recanting would make him a liar: He told us it was already a done deal.

The city manager, Mary Suhm. If she ever admits this thing was a mistake, she might as well rent a big U-Haul and haul herself up to Alaska to retire.

None of our congressional delegation, who have funded this thing with earmark funny money all these years, can afford to say they threw the money away.

You have everybody from Gail Thomas at the Dallas Institute to city council member Dwaine Caraway -- all the people who let themselves get tattooed with the toll road somewhere along the way. They can never admit what a bad idea this was from the beginning. And I should love that, because it means they are hoist with their own petard.

The Dallas Morning News, of which there has been no greater shill, is trying to distance itself by saying it was seduced by "leaders"

who told the paper it was a good plan. Sure, we could laugh at them. And I do. But isn't there also something at least vulnerable and human in such a transparently weak attempt at self-exoneration? In addition to laughing at them, I should be willing to feel a little bit sorry for them in their dilemma. I am going to feel sorry for them in the near future, I am sure. I'm working on it.

But the others, the hardcore, now that's another story, a tale crudely told by Allison, who sends his Man Friday out to the balcony to tell the angry mob, "I think my boss was sort of against it after he was kind of for it a little bit briefly, but please don't hurt me, because I just work here."

They are all helpless in a prison of their own making with only room enough to squirm. In the next edition of D, Allison will have some laughably contorted Jesuitical nonsense about how he does not recant, but he does decant, and even if problems may have made the project somewhat less viable, they also have made it more pliable, which is almost the same thing except for two letters.

I should love this, but for some reason I don't. I think I may just be tired of hearing them all talk, no matter what they say. May they all fade away mercifully into the tender embrace of irrelevance -- the only hug they deserve.


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31 comments
demon_lion
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scottindallas
scottindallas

"It's just beginning to dawn on me. I should be in heaven right now. I don't know why I'm not."

It's those hamsters of thought, diversion and question that keep you from your immovable spot.  Learn to put those rodents of worry to sleep and Nirvana is yours. 

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

This just in from a certain somebody (who, alas, is having computer issues):

"Jim Schutze, in his magisterial blog post, assures us with no small schadenfreude that I reside in a kind of iron maiden of the soul, where crow is my only meal and squirming my only luxury.  To that I say: Nonsense!  I direct interested readers to a spirited discussion I had with a certain Angela Hunt in our celebrated comments section, in which, to put it bluntly, I handed her ass to her.  She trotted out the same shop-worn faux populism donned so unbecomingly (and predictably) by Jim – money this, studies that, “democracy,” yadda yadda yad nauseum. Well, the fact is, I never advocated the toll road per se. I merely pointed out that the bond package approved by voters, not to mention the attendant federal matching funds, was predicated on a comprehensive design to include flood ways, levee improvements,waterways, open space, and – wait for it, Jim, I know you can handle it -- a parkway. While Schutze prattles on about the “will of the people,” it is us citizen servants – and yes, business leaders – who act as its most jealous steward.  Now, far be it for me to defend myself in the domicile of the 10th most powerful man in Dallas (a heady accolade, to be sure),  but Messrs. Wilonsky and Schutze do their readers a disservice by misrepresenting my words to suit their own vendetta against those who would dare cherish personal wealth.  Nowhere did I say anything to imply that the tollroad was a good idea. Nowhere! But I was guilty of one thing. I was guilty of exhorting our fine citizens to march forward rather than to retreat. To demand accountability from their elected officials in the form of making good on the bond package for which they voted. To embrace excellence! In doing so, I fully expected the querulous  tenor of Jim Schutze to rise implacably. And rise it still does. As for teats and the sucking thereof, I find it particularly rich to find such charges levied against me by a liberal. Why so stabby, sir? Welfare check late this month? --W"

WickingTechnology
WickingTechnology

Wick is nothing more than a tick, sucking at the teets of the Dallas Citizen Council in their homeland, known as the Park Cities. 

Bob
Bob

Wick Allison looks like a fool. I would love to see how many rewrites he does on his August article.

Harvey
Harvey

Back in the day, you would've seen a rail, tar, and feathers by now.  However, the lords of Dallas have learned in the past couple of decades that the people in the city are so gullible - or just don't give a damn - that they can do whatever they wish.  I'd like to think that people like Angela Hunt and Kunkle might have their day to bring the city back to reason, but I'm seriously doubting it.  There are enough enablers to keep the money grubbing to a steady flow.  

georgegobel
georgegobel

Tim wrote:  "But that support ended, far as I can tell, in 2009."

The admitted flip-flopping aside, surely the phrase "as far as I can tell" was intended to modify the DATE mentioned (2009), not to modify the phrase regarding the ending of the support.

In other words, Tim most likely meant to write something equivalent to, "As far as I can tell, it was 2009 when Wick's support ended." 

I'm no WIck (or Tim) apologist, but to read it the other way is to go "the long way around the back of the barn" to find a non-existent issue.

MattL1
MattL1

I was really hoping Wick would step up and show himself in the comment section on this one.  Alas, it was not to be...

I also hadn't heard the term "Jesuitical" in a while, so thanks for that, Jim.

Phelps
Phelps

It's not dead yet. They will spend another $500bb trying to get us to forget about the first $500bb.

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

They(the pro toll road folks) shall not go quietly into that good night. Y'all can bet on this... that they are devising new ways to mislead us, as we sit here and type! Beg, Borrow, and Steal is their business model and business is good!

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Those who have cheerleaded this joke should pay the tax payers back for the wasted money for their STUPID obsessions with this ill conceived project.   Can you say CLAW BACK.   Claw back those monies from our elected officials, D Magazine and the Dallas Morning News.   RESPONSIBLITY-you jokers were at fault and you OWE the taxpayers the money that was wasted.   It is times like these that I feel that we need a debtor’s prison for our elected officals preferably in the flood plane of the Trinity so when it floods it will carry their sorry asses down the river.

jfpo
jfpo

Jim may be the only truth teller when it comes to this project, but he's still not as powerful as Big Bob...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ac/201...

Note that Wick and Tim did not make the list.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

How did you get that video of Tim Rogers from his days at The Met?

Gangy
Gangy

It's too late to say they're sorry.  We can't accept an apology that doesn't put the money back in taxpayers' hands and doesn't turn the clock back for truly vital projects to be accomplished.   Angela Hunt deserves a whole City Council public meeting full of apologies from former mayors, former and present council members, city staff, Royce West, John Wiley Price, Willis Johnson, NTTA representatives, Texas Department of Transportation decision makers, the press in Dallas, and everyone else who pushed this through knowing it was to the detriment of the city.

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

Folks, do not go away smug assuming the toll road is dead.  Too many of our 'elites' were planning on making some big bucks off this project and will not want some other bucket of public money or a re-work of the toll road to make them happy.

pcarson
pcarson

I'm really glad to hear that they have decided the Trinity toll road is off.  When I first read of it I thought it was one of the stupidest ideas I had ever heard, and have never changed my mind.  Some of the Trinity projects could be saved, and add to the ambiance of the Trinity, rather than making it the southern border of Dallas, as many north Dallas people see it.  Just compare what Fort Worth has done with Trinity Park.  The possibilities can be far-reaching and make Dallas in general a better place, but pretending the Trinity is not a river and can be ignored for traffic is not one of them.

JimS
JimS

Late, plus no cost of living increase.

gabbahey
gabbahey

What a fucking imbecile.

Wick, you are either part of the solution, or you're part of the problem. It's a little late for saving face at this point.

Montemalone
Montemalone

You were great in Harper Valley PTA.

concrete shoes
concrete shoes

Truer words were never typed. I'm a fool for opposing the syndicates of the Citizens Council over the years. I wish I could join them and get a share of the profit in the next business venture investement deal of a lifetime they successfully con the Dallas voters into approving. 

Marc
Marc

Mister Mean, what you suggest is completely unthinkable! It would only pollute the river even more that it is already polluted, and it would cause people and places downstream to become saturated in the same pile of shit that stinks up our city.

A more appropriate punishment would be to seize the assets of those who promoted this stupid idea, and then take them out somewhere they would not stink up the place, strip them naked, tie them down to fire ant beds and pour honey on them in the blazing hot sun.

Jim, THANK YOU for one of the most riveting and hard hitting pieces of quality journalism I have ever read. It is always refreshing when a writer peels back the veneer and gets right down to the patina.

Jay
Jay

I disagree. The toll road inside the levy scheme is DOA. It was always a stupid idea, and people afraid to admit that in the past have finally seen the light. Repairing the decertified levy system is going to be sucking all available cash for a long time. Finally, the Corp of Engineers (recently?) mentioned they would retain the right to close the toll road in flood conditions, which is a position the NTTA and City would never tolerate.

pcarson
pcarson

Yes, I guess it is wishful thinking on my part to think it is really dead.  It is just that it seems the idiocy of building a road in the river seem as though it would dawn on the powers that be at some point.  I've see the Trinity in flood stage too many times to think that making the flood plain smaller by adding whatever it takes to build the roadway is ever going to be feasible.  I remember the first idea was putting the toll road on the levees, obviously the idea of someone who had never laid eyes on the levees, since they are only one lane wide at the top.  I keep hoping good sense will prevail, all the while knowing that money always prevails.

Tom L (No, Not That L)
Tom L (No, Not That L)

Yeah, I've seen this project seem to die too many times. I expect after the current fervor dies down (in, say, six months) we'll get some sort of update from the city that assumes the thing is still going on as strong as ever.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Marc:   I see that you (and I do too) care about the environment!   How about this -  I recall  reading these murder mysteries that took place in the ancient Roman Republic (80 BC around) written by Steven Sayler.  It appears that one of the worst crimes back then was patricide (killing your father).   The punishment was that the perpetrator was flogged to the point that his entire body was bloodied- they then were forced to crawl to a large leather bag that then they were sewed into with a hyena, a poisonous snake, a rooster, and baboon (quite a frendly crowd) and the bag was pushed into the Tiber (this case the Trinity) where it floated out to the sea (Mediterranean).  The shores of the Tiber were lined with citizens who pushed the bag back into the river if it ran aground.   This appeared to have ancient religious significance as this was more of than civil in nature.

Marc
Marc

Those silly Romans! I guess they got tired of feeding people to the lions in the coleseum.

Now I see why you go by "Mister Mean"! ROTFLMAO!

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