Trinity Toll Road Decision Could Have Dire Consequences? Like What? Stoning?

Categories: Schutze

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Dallas is a weird little speed-trap town in its own way. I often wonder what visitors think. What they need to think is, "I've got to be really careful and keep my mouth shut until I get out of this burg safely."

These musings come to me after reading a dire little piece in today's daily newspaper by Dallas Morning News transportation writer Michael Lindenberger. It's a very dialed-back version of an even more breathless screed he posted yesterday on the News' transportation blog. And by the way, who even has a "transportation blog?"

On the transportation blog, which I think is actually very popular among Dallas transportation-heads, Lindenberger warned of very dire consequences that may ensue for Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings for even listening to certain Dallas City Council members (Scott Griggs, Sandy Greyson, Angela Hunt) who have raised certain very provocative and potentially dangerous questions about certain things:

It's potentially crippling to Hunt and Griggs and Greyson," Lindenberger writes. "While there are risks to Rawlings if he mishandles this, the stakes are no less severe for Angela Hunt, Scott Griggs and Sandy Greyson ...

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You will be assimilated ... and build a toll road.
So let's say you're from out of town. Or you're not a transportation-head. You just sort of climb aboard various modes of transport and use them to go places. You don't really keep up with the gossip. And you read this. What sort of horrible questions do you suppose the council members posed to the mayor? Was it about the virgin birth? Please don't tell me they're trying to defend man-boy love. I hope it wasn't something like, "Just look the other way for 10 minutes, Mike, and we can all be rich for life."

No. None of the above. It's way more Dallas-weird than that. The council members presented the mayor with numbers they got from state highway officials showing that the proposed new highway the Dallas elite wants to build out in the flood zone along the Trinity River is the most expensive least efficient option for reducing traffic congestion downtown. And the mayor wants to check those numbers for himself with the highway department.

This question, by the way -- whether a new toll road in the flood zone will accommodate more or fewer vehicle trips than other proposed improvements to already existing freeways -- ignores what most people would consider much sexier issues, like isn't it true that no matter many people drive down the new road in the flood zone -- a whole bunch or just a few -- they're all going to die? It would be built, after all, in the flood zone.

Oh, no. That's boring. We don't even talk about stuff like that in Dallas. We just want to know about the vehicle-mile projections as a ratio of construction costs. We're like a strange race of people on a space station in a Star Trek episode, the Minutiaborgs, with bright red ears and eyeballs on the sides of our heads, unable to see what's right in front of us because we're so focused on side issues.

And, oh my God, just think of it. What if the three members of the Minutiaborg council turn out to have misinterpreted the state's traffic projection data for the Great Minutiaborg Holy Highway that the Minutia Elders have decreed? Obviously they will have to be fed into a tree chipper.

I'm just saying, you'd think that stupid toll road they want to build out there in the underwater zone was something they had found in the Bible. How sacrosanct can one highway be?

I know other places have deals like this. Boston had the "Big Dig," and so on. But I don't believe public works projects take on this kind of religious fervor elsewhere. Only in Dallas could raising questions about traffic projections be considered a mortal risk.

Next week's headline: Council trio struck down by lightning on City Hall steps after raising questions about Ray Hunt.

See. You strangers don't even know who Ray Hunt is, do you? Give up. You'll never understand us. Just try to get in and out of town without saying anything negative about the Trinity River toll road. We'd hate to see you have to call home for bail money, not to mention getting fed into a tree chipper.

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36 comments
Perry Moore
Perry Moore

I feel like I've been through a tree chipper every time I go through the Mixmaster, but I'm one of those damn slowpoke visitors. By the way, are they planning to build this highway underwater? Mr. Schutze indicates that we will need a WaterCar to use it. You'd think that those smartass engineers could figure out how to get that road way up in the air and keep it there. Then again, Venice wouldn't be Venice without underwater streets.

Wes Scott
Wes Scott

Our mayor has Leppertcy - a disease characterized by saying things that are just plain false because he thinks they are the proper things to say. The army Corpos of Engineers is NOT going to approve theat damned Trinity toll road project because it is a threat to the flood control purpose of the levee system. In the end, Hunt, Greyson and Griggs are going to come off looking like the only three councilmembers with functioning brains.

Dalguy
Dalguy

Maybe we are missing something here.  Perhaps the Trinity Flood Road will be for boats, not cars and trucks.  We need it now that $4 million bucks was spent to build the Standing Wave that blocks boat traffic along the natural course of the river.

richard schumacher
richard schumacher

Surely part of the Federal High Way Administration's job is to look at the same numbers that Hunt, Griggs & Greyson have?  Having done that how could the FHWA not conclude that a Trinity floodway toll road is stupid?

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

 They .Really really really .. Want this!  And like a teenager  they have it in their minds that everything is going to be peachy once it is finished

As a matter of fact In their minds it is finished. Yes the whole project has come together perfectly aligned everyone should be waiting to cut that ribbon, 

They....Can't imagine what is wrong with the rest of us that we can't see how wonderful the whole completed project is .

 

S Aten
S Aten

The city's contribution to the Tollroad/Parkway was only $84 million and it has almost all been spent on consultant studies.  The city would have to go to the voters for any additional money and the city's reaching it's credit card limit.    The proposed tollroad is the least effective and most expensive way to move people & goods.    Rail is a much better solution in the long term.  It is quicker & less expensive to build.   It can move more people using less energy and generates less pollution.   

The other question no one seems to ask is what happens when the road is closed due to flooding.    What will it cost to fix the flood damaged road and where will all the extra traffic go?

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

I'm reminded of that South Park episode where Cartman bumps his head, so he can travel back in time to find out if the founding fathers were pro-war or if they were for peace. When he lands there he sees that some were for going to war with Britain, and others are for keeping the peace with the redcoats. Then, all of a sudden Ben Franklin walks into the meeting and tells the crowd that they can have it both ways. He surmises that America has to take a strong stand against aggressors, so as not to look weak; but America needs the anti-war proclaimers to show other countries that we're not warmongers. Here in Dallas we've got the "council of three" protesting the toll road to show that this city just isn't in on the take for the Dallas Citizens Council and their interest....while the city fires up the bulldozers. 

SpeedbumpJoey
SpeedbumpJoey

Just when you thought the city politics, or writing couldn't get any dumber, they go and pull a stunt like this. And totally redeem themselves! *facepalm*

Tom L
Tom L

Well, we all know what's going to happen next. Lindenberger will shut up on the subject and Mayor Mike will forget about it and Hunt, Griggs, and Greyson will neglect to follow up on it. Within a few weeks everyone will have forgotten about it. And at some point in the future while discussing some totally related subject Mary Suhm will slyly work into the conversation something about how the toll road is totally on track and the whole thing is go, go, go!

And then after THAT ... nothing. Nothing is going to happen for a long time. Then some piece of news will come out and the whole cycle will repeat and STILL nothing will happen. I'm starting to suspect that this project was never meant to be completed in the first place. It's a money sink where the city can hide all of its questionable dealings and if anyone ever audits the books everything will look kosher because all this disappearing money is filed under "Trinity River Project".

jimi
jimi

The only hope I see for this not being built is lack of funding. Thank God our deficit is $14,000,000,000! I went down to Trammel Crow Park off of Sylvan Wednesday evening just to see what the Trinity looks like up close. It's a very interesting place. Everyone should check it out. There were approximately 50 to 70 people down there playing soccer, walking, playing with kids, dogs, etc. You can walk right up to the Trinity. Yet the skyline is right there. The maps I am seeing show this pollution spewing mass of concrete being situated just a few feet north of the park. Dallas is really hurting for more places like this. I know we all feel helpless and that's the saddest part.

Bob
Bob

Lindenberger's statement about the trio made me feel bad for him. I imagined Rodger Jones hovering over Michael's shoulder as he tapped out his blog post. "No, Mike, change 'problematic' to 'dire consequences,' " Rodger would say.

I've chatted with consultants who are close to this boondoggle and they insist that the Toll Road's construction is inevitable. "There's too much money depending on its construction," they say. These anti-park forces of evil think they are the white chess pieces and the pro-park proponents are are the dark chess pieces. They think they are naturally one move ahead and always on the offensive.

Time, however, is not on the anti-park group's side. First, there's still the small problem of no funding. They are not even close to securing funds. Second, there are still a number of ways to slow any construction via litigation or another referendum. And don't discount City Hall's credibility gap. They sold us a park when they wanted a road. As Winfrey Point has shown us, citizens are growing tired of the City's lack of transparency.

Maybe Queen Mary and her consulting gang should consider a switcharoo. What the Trinity needs is a monorail!

LDR4
LDR4

Jim, I remember reading an article you wrote about the MHH brigde as it was under construction where the Army Corps of Engineers discovers that low and behold there was liquid or quick sand a few feet under the ground. The French apparently loved the stuff in the 1900s. Now, if I'm not mistaken, it is probably still there and spans quite a ways up and down the flood plain. Now, I know that city officials have short memories where they can only see green, but I would think that building a large and heavy road on unstable ground is just asking for problems. That and every one will drown, as you point out.

Barbara Blanton
Barbara Blanton

I just don't get the risks for  Hunt and Griggs and Greyson, especially Hunt.   She always marches to her own drummer.  You know, the smart, articulate drummer.  It hasn't hurt her yet.

It's hard to argue with the truth or with a well reasoned, data-driven argument unless you have skin in the game....... like real-estate business skin.   Then you argue but don't make real sense I don't think.

Mickister
Mickister

Reading this story made me think about giving Detroit the day over Dallas, but in other transportation news, I saw an article about the ten worst cities in America for traffic congestion.  Dallas wasn't in the top ten.  It was all the way down at 24.

What did Detroit make the news for?  They have a plan to shut off about half of the city's street lights, largely in areas that have been abandoned by citizens and businesses.  About half of it's street lights (seriously) are not functioning anyway.  So even though Dallas having moderately bad traffic is bad, Detroit having third-world infrastructure strikes me as far worse.

Dallas 1, Detroit 0.

Montemalone
Montemalone

That's a nice pic of Queen Mary whispering in Mayor Mike's ear.

claytonauger
claytonauger

Yep, me too. Like the project now is all about comparative costs of pouring cement, and nothing else? I know I'll still think as much or more of those three outlaw Council members - the only ones that seem to be sentient beings. 

Cujo
Cujo

I'd say Angela and Co. would be in dire straits being associated with anything to do with the continuation of the Consultant Money Trap.  Nobody seems to bring up just how much they've wasted so far without anything concrete, let alone the park that was the carrot at the end of the stick. As I recall, they've admitted to spending almost 250 million on this and not even a mock-up of the water taxi has been found. Having grown up in an area where entire neighborhoods have collapsed due to unstable landfill that was placed there with the permission of unscrupulous politicians[1], I have to wonder who is going to pay for this in the coming generations. Unlike the story below, when this toll road collapses, there will probably be a major catastrophe.

[1] http://www.citypaper.net/cover...

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Yeah... I had the same reaction reading that piece.  I just don't get it (actually I do):  a substantial number of the more educated members of the City Council posed some entirely legitimate questions about a controversial, multi-billion dollar project.  Isn't that what council members are supposed to do?

I have no doubt that the highly politicized, softly corrupted TxDOT will produce the "right" answer for Rawlings--- but that just says more about the extremely poor manner in which this project has been vetted that it says about the council members.

What are they going to do-- run more big ads featuring more bald faced lies:  Hunt, Griggs and Greyson want to send billions of your money down the river!!!

scottindallas
scottindallas

 evidently they have, or at least they're not entertaining funding this or anything like it.  If they would, we'd be chasing those dollars.

lorlee
lorlee

We need to ask for a line item listing of how the $246M from the first election has been spent.  I understand a lot of it is gone and I dont' see a lot we have to show for it. 

KW
KW

You underestimate Scott Griggs. Ever since we got rid of crooked Dave Neumann, Scott continues to ask the questions no one else dares to ask. He knows he's got a target on his back and wears it proud. He's probably even smart enough to get those stats with a date, time stamp, and logo on it to match up to Mike's stats. This is high stakes poker and my bet is on the boy.

Mike
Mike

The real way to stop this thing is to bad mouth with every possible funding source. The key factor on funding for the next few decades is that every funding decision is zero sum game. Forget win-win. Whether Congress or the Lege in Austin, we just need to make sure our competitors for funds know what an asinine project the road is. Let them carry our water for us. A billion plus for us is a billion others do not get. We cannot prevent the Citizens Council from bribing South Dallas leaders to win a city bond vote. If we cannot afford to fix streets, I do not see how we have an excess billion in debt capacity just lying around.

scottindallas
scottindallas

please stop the "everyone will drown" non-sense.  Most likely, building the toll road would involve shoring up the North Levee.  And, the toll road would be elevated.  I completely disagree with the tollroad, but no doubt building it would require shoring up the levee on which it would sit.  Again, what you describe is more a likely complication and huge increase in cost.  But, the city officials would probably rather be "surprised" with the cost increase.  They get estimates not for budgeting, but for the constituents.  If the cost increases, they don't really think about that.

DOJa
DOJa

"I just don't get the risks for  Hunt and Griggs and Greyson, especially Hunt.   She always marches to her own drummer.  You know, the smart, articulate drummer.  It hasn't hurt her yet."Stay tuned, the first is coming and its a doozy! 

cp
cp

Silly, don't you know the reason we have to move cars (not people, mind you) faster through downtown is because we have to decrease air pollution and cars are the only things in North Texas that makes our air quality the worst in the country... 

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Have you ever done a count of how many street lights in Dallas are non-functing? It would appear that Oncor/TXU is in regular violation of its agreements with the Cityof Dallas.... Yet Suhm does nothing.

Bob
Bob

 I wish Charles Schultz was still alive. "It's a Very Painful Trinity Audit, Charlie Brown."

Gap analysis, anyone?

KW
KW

Email your councilmember with that suggestion.

JimS
JimS

This is a great point. Right now the tollies are depending on the NCTCG to get them their money. That price of $1.4 billion is bullshit. I spent a day at NTTA offices FIVE YEARS AGO and they had estimates in their files of $1.8 billion. That was before God invented sand. Whatever the real cost, Michael Morris and the NCTCG are going to be the ones to pony it up, and that means it come straight out of the hide of the entire rest of the region. Thay're all afraid to give NCTCG any shit, because NCTCG sits on top of the big federal money. What they really need to do is close in on NCTCG, get a new CEO, fire Morris and get NCTCG out of the hands of the Dallas powers. I never thought I would say this, but the 'burbs need to unite against the city on this one. If the string-pullers and powers that be in dalals are just going to use NCTCG to fund their own bad project, to the detriment of the city's interests, then the city benefits, too, if the burbs can seize control of NCTCG and maybe get it off our backs. 

Bloodinthewater
Bloodinthewater

Sorry DOJa disparaging words about Saint Angela are not allowed on this website.

And give the Agela lovers their due, there is a wide world of difference between the FBI investigation of JWP and tnhe HUD lawsuit you are referring to, between out and out potential illegal activity and just routine run-of-the-mill politician hypocrisy.

The HUD lawsuit, if it ever gets public, will of course reveal the smug, arrogant, self-righteous Angela sucking up all those housing dollars into the affluent part of Downtown she represents while pushing all the 'bums' into Medrano's part of Downtown. This blog quoted her loving up on Hamiltion etal (although Hamilton etal completely failed to deliver the legally required affordable housing units for his public funds (over) subisidy). 'Forty percent affordable is just too much, too much, too much. We need to give Hamilton more no bid money because he's delivering what we like, affluent housing funded with public funds.But one hundred percent low-income is just perfect for my colleague Ms Medrano.'

Hunt is only guilty of routine, hyper ambitious run-of-mill pandering to her base in the mostly white, mostly affluent, exceptional class, which she both perfectly represents and perfectly reflects. The folks who can not see that their judgement about their pandering candidate really doesn't differ too much from the dumb non-white districts they love to patronize.

Bob
Bob

 Talk about a nonsense, comment, DOJa.

mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

It could start with Charlie Brown getting his kite stuck in a floodplain tree, then being upset about it and talking to Lucy in her psychiatrist box.She's on the take from one of the parents (wahwahWAH?) because she wants to buy things for Schroeder, so she tells him to trade his baseball cap for a hard hat and build his way to success.They both then talk the other kids into building the bridge. A few cut-scenes of Pigpen Construction hard at work moving piles of dirt, and Sally and other girls primping their hair while talking about how beautiful the bridge will be and wondering if their sweet baboos will be at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, follow.Spike comes to town looking for work, pulling his cactus in a wagon, and camps out with other homeless and some Occupy Dallas members in the park.In the climax (and climatically), Spike leaves the Occupy camp to look for water, and finds it -- a huge flood comes! Aauuuugggh! Snoopy saves the day, using Linus' blanket to drag everyone out, with Woodstock and a couple of his bird friends hopping up and down on the water-bloated stomachs of near-drowning victims to get them to breathe. Snoopy pulls Spike out, and cheers to discover his brother. Spike recovers, goes looking for his cactus, kisses it, and everyone laughs when he gets a nose full of thorns. The End.

How'd I do?

Boo
Boo

JimS -

City Hall is going to have to pay BILLIONS to fix the south Dallas housing debacle! No one is accounting for that..............

This toll road is a pipe dream as a result....................stay tuned! 

Bob
Bob

LOL. Sounds like typical troll-like comment from Team Reed or Team Woodlief. Do you have anything better?

DOJa
DOJa

Trust me, Angela Hunt will be exposed by her own actions. I have a feeling there is much you do not know. Her huge part will not be glossed over or scapegoated upon someone else, I assure you. With what is coming, I hope she has given much thought of another profession. 

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