"The Times Are A-Changin'": Hunt, Griggs Ask Pointed Questions About Trinity Toll Road

Michael Morris at Council.jpg
NCTCOG's Michael Morris
According to the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the Trinity Parkway will cost around $1.8 billion, give or take a few million. That money's not there. But, hey, what's the rush: As we mentioned this morning, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' environmental impact statement on the Dallas Floodway is three, four years off. So, don't fret. There's time to find the money, even in the midst of a transportation funding "crisis."

That's the word used by Michael Morris, the head of transportation for the NCTCOG and a man whose connections to the Trinity Parkway project Schutze detailed in 2007. He spoke to the council's Trinity River Corridor Project Committee moments ago and begged the city to keep the zombie alive between the levees. He offered a Top 10 list of reasons why -- everything from "unlock[ing] the downtown congestion nightmare" to the fact it's been part of the regional transportation plan since 1974 to the possibility that it'll create economic development in South Dallas and improve air quality.

This last bit did not amuse committee member Scott Griggs one damned bit: "We can't build our way out of air-quality issues," he told Morris. "It's like buying new clothes instead of going on a diet."

But Dallas needs a toll road between the levees, Morris reiterated. "We have an existing problem and it's not going to go away," he said, referring to people moving into the area. "The DFW region is leading the country as a place people are trying to get to to meet the needs of their family."

But who would fund it? Would would build it? Well, years ago it caught the eye of the NTTA, which now brings with it the FBI. Said Morris, the North Texas Tollway Authority is still the only entity that could finance the project: That's "the reason why we've proposed it as a toll road," he told Griggs -- because it would be paid for by "toll users."

Problem is, the NTTA won't commit to anything till the EIS is done in 2015. Which is fine by Hunt, who once again insisted on bringing in a "nationally renown transportation expert to take a look at this."

You could tell during the briefing: Hunt's still furious over then-Mayor Tom Leppert having insisted you couldn't straighten Dead Man's Curve without voting for the entire toll road. It was a lie, one of many uttered by the pro-toll road faction leading up to the 2007 referendum. She thanked Texas Department of Transportation officials and Morris for spending parkway funds on that -- should run around $150 million total, which is there -- but then reminded him, repeatedly: "The times are a-changin'."

Vonciel Jones Hill, chair of the committee, promised a full, separate Trinity Parkway briefing sooner than later. Stock up on popcorn now.
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21 comments
transit options
transit options

a road is only one transportation option... adding and extending rail lines would also provide relief to congetion as those going to/from down town have an option other than a road.  It will not solve all the issues, but its better than a toll road and provides for future expansion easier (by adding trains on the track and not expanding road widths.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

What never ceases to amaze me is that Morris's talking points remain exactly the same even though the "facts" upon which they are based were revealed as lies long ago.  You would think he and his communications people would attempt to become more nuanced in their message.  He's the Dick Cheney of the transportation world.  This road will be killed or die a natural death.  Whichever occurs first is fine with me.  The landscape has changed.  Mr. Morris and his friends need to adapt and move on.

Tony
Tony

We should outlaw the word "Family" in politics. It's just a stupid card you play to keep people from pointing out how stupid your notions are and if you criticize them, then "Oh my God you hate families!"

Bob
Bob

Ah, I see Frank Lutz is also coaching Michael Morris.

* It won't increase traffic near the center city, it will "unlock the downtown congestion nightmare."* It's not fulfilling gambles on commercial real estate, "it's been a part of the regional transportation plan since 1974."* It won't line the pockets of the South Dallas political machine, "it will create economic activity in South Dallas."* It won't increase pollution spewing vehicles, it will "improve air quality."

My gosh, there is clearly a lot already invested money at stake in that swampland known as Trinity River Corridor. Is this second effort the reason why Mayor Mike has declined to take a position on the Trinity Freeway? I hope not.

scottindallas
scottindallas

unknotting traffic does reduce pollution.  This process/plan is no way to do that

claytonauger
claytonauger

Michael Morris is a road whore. The entire COG is there only to fund more highways. It shoud all be blown up.

ChuckE
ChuckE

"unlock[ing] the downtown congestion nightmare"?  When are they going to quit spouting this lie? Where are the traffic studies that prove this? I saw all the design options and none of them have high-speed interchanges for the toll road and IH30 or IH 35 near downtown. The toll road merely connects IH35 up by Mockingbird to IH45 in South Dallas.

elbueno
elbueno

Congestion on 30 and 35 can be relieved by rerouting them around the central city entirely. The interstates paths through downtown are what creates congestion. And only a small percentage of users are actually exiting to downtown. 

Removing the interstates from the center city will both alleviate congestion (long run) and create economic growth and investment in dowtown.

Mike
Mike

It only re-routes traffic moving from 183 to 45 and in reverse.  The big drivers, I-30 E/W and connections to I-35/Tollway N/S see nothing.  That small segment of traffic is why the road has to be a toll road. Otherwise the Feds would not support it. 

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

The road fails to meet federal standards for aid that require it to show that it will attract a certain minimal level of traffic; in other words, Mr. Morris is lying. The question is: why?

scottindallas
scottindallas

Why isn't much a question either Wylie.  The question is, who will lean on Mr Morris?  We need to put the demos in democracy

Bob
Bob

There is still lots and lots of money tied in commercial real estate speculation. And don't forget the potential commercial construction and consulting contracts. This is a perfect project to feed the Dallas political machine. Everybody who is part of this machine wins big time money.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

What a sad tragic joke on the citizens of Dallas.  A joke posed by a bunch of lunatics with too much time and money on their hands.   Seems like Mike Morris needs some medication to clear up those delusions.

Paul
Paul

NCTCOG ... yet another one of those quasi-government agencies that is not really answerable to anyone yet has an incredible impact on our lives.

Why do these "gentlemen" want to put a road in the Trinity Floodway; because they see a blank space and it must be filled in.

Watching South Detroit
Watching South Detroit

Why? Because certain politically connected people (construction people, real estate speculators, people skimming off the money, public officials) will make a ton of money off this boondoggle.  JWP must have his hand in this somewhere. 

Juan Valdez
Juan Valdez

The definition of retrograde.

Vidal Sassoon
Vidal Sassoon

Memo to Michael Morris:

Your comb-over is no longer working now that you have nothing to comb-over.  Have you considered extensions?

Mike
Mike

It's not an overcomb if it is pushed back, not side to side. 

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