Why Wait for Mike Rawlings' Trinity Toll Road Speech When We Know What He'll Say?

Mike_Rawlings_ballot_Merten.jpg
Photo by Sam Merten
Mayor Mike Rawlings reveals his love for the toll road today.
Yesterday Joe told you that Mike Rawlings, our mayor, is having a press conference today to announce how he feels about the Trinity River Toll Road.

So guess who's got to go to the damn thing at 12:30? OK, OK, I'm doin' it. Wow, everybody doesn't just need to get in a big huge wad about it. I'll go.

But if you read Joe's item and clicked through the links, the whole story is already there. I could report this thing without ever getting out of bed. But I have already gotten out of bed, OK? It's a figure of speech. Wow. Am I not trusted? I'm just suggesting that we do some simple Kremlinology here first. Who's going to be standing to the right of Kruschev on the review stand for this particular May Day Parade?

Attending with Mayor Rawlings will be Lee Jackson, chancellor of UNT, a non-academic who ascended to his comfortable and lucrative post after mongering for the toll road project as Dallas County Judge for years; Donna Halstead, a paid career henchperson for the toll-road-loving Dallas Citizens Council; John Scovell, a political fixer for oilman Ray ("Old Man River") Hunt; and former Dallas city council member and toll road cheerleader Dave Neumann, whom everybody had assumed before today to be either dead or in the wiggy ward.

So what's gonna happen? OK, just for grins, let's pretend I didn't get out of bed. Which I did, Joe. Hours ago. But what if I stayed in bed and reported this press conference now, the way it's obviously going to roll out? Could I do that and get it right? I'll give it a whirl, and then we shall compare my imaginary version with actual event later when the event actually happens.

Today's mayoral Trinity River Toll Road press conference -- a predictive report:

Mayor Mike Rawlings talked about the future. He said Dallas must dream big. He said the sky is huge. He talked about what a difficult decision this has been for him, because of all the wonderful smart committed citizens on all sides of it. He mentioned Angela Hunt favorably. He regretted all the division and rancor that have marred this important civic process.

The mayor listed all of the things that have been done already - the bird-watching and the manmade mud-holes - oops, I mean "wetlands." He may even have said something about how "the land is wet, and wet is good." Maybe not. That may be a little too granular for my crystal ball.

But then he grew more serious and somber. The city has been divided racially, he said. He quoted Ron Kirk as saying the thing that would cure racism in Dallas would be a toll road. Obviously. He also said that the city is being crushed, gored, poisoned and slapped silly by gridlock.

What is gridlock? He didn't say. He didn't have to, did he? We all know something called gridlock has to be just bad. The mayor said that he had talked to a lot of traffic engineers and gridlock experts, and they had all told him that the solution to having too many cars in the center of the city is to build a big highway so you can bring more cars into the center of the city. On this part he talked real fast, so I couldn't really understand him, even in my dreams.

Then he talked about Laura Miller and her "Balanced Vision Plan" and how that had fixed all the problems with the road and the park and so on. He started to talk about how much he liked Laura Miller and what a great mayor she was, but John Scovell started poking him in the back, and then Donna Halstead started making the cut-cut motion on her neck, and then Lee Jackson started giggling uncontrollably, and then Dave Neumann got excited and bounded right out of the room like a kangaroo.

So he said, "OK, forget Laura Miller."

That's a direct quote.

For his kicker, he said the voters had spoken. Twice, he said, the people of Dallas have voted explicitly to build a big huge honking highway right down the banks of the river, ruining any chance of ever having a real park in the green space out there. Scovell and Haltstead and Jackson all nodded yes, and Neumann bounded back into the room and shouted, "Pickles and applesauce!"

The mayor said not to worry about the missing billion-plus dollars needed for building the road. He explained that there are "large pots of not-real money" that can be used for this sort of thing. Scovell nodded wisely and interjected, "It grows on trees."

They had exciting visuals.

I think I'm done here. I'll get back to you later if I made any mistakes.


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47 comments
Dalguy
Dalguy

Clearly there is a back story here, or should I say a back room story.  On the surface, in the bright light of day, no rational person could be in favor of spending two billion dollars we don't have to build---now pay attention---a toll road in a flood plain that will separate the downtown of a major city from its one and only significant natural feature.  Obviously, way down under, or way out back, there is something very fishy going on here, no pun intended.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Why don't we just pave the entire flood way ?

Work out some traffic patterns and be done with it.

ThatGuy
ThatGuy

Keep your eyes peeled.  There will be a bond election for "parks" that will be a coverup for this monster.  What we really need is a toll road through the middle of Preston Hollow to relieve traffic between LBJ and 35.  Oh, and the private money will come from Rick Perry's friends in Spain who will collect the tolls. 

bbetzen
bbetzen

Jim, you were on target. The Mayor also avoided speaking about the noise from the toll road and, when asked about it, said he had been assured that noise would be minimized.  I do not have his exact words, but it was my perception that the question made him uncomfortable. 

Central Park in NYC is beautiful, but you could hardly call it quiet.  I've canoed the Trinity many times and it is amazingly quiet.  That solitude is what will allow us to have a truly world class Trinity River Park, a thousand times greater and more popular someday than Central Park in NYC.   That will not happen if this toll road is ever build.  It is only planned for the out of town traffic driving through and never stopping in Dallas. That traffic will only leave behind the noise and pollution, destroying any potential for a world-class park, a park that could unify our city. 

Guest
Guest

How come nobody asked him how many police officers he wants to fire in order to pay for this road?

As the city keeps saying when it can't even pay for water for the water features in its downtown park, money is tight. If we're going to commit to building a road that cannot come anywhere near paying for itself, then we need to determine our priorities. According to the city, we've cut the fat and trimmed spending to the bone. We have $6 billion in infrastructure repairs and improvements that we have already taken off the table because we cannot even hope to fund them.

So if we're going to add additional spending, where, specifically, will the money to pay for it come from?

From his comments, I know the Mayor is expecting the money fairy to come and put it under the city's pillow one night, but being a leader means making the hard choices. If this road is that important, then we need to figure out NOW how we're going to pay for it. If we don't know after over a decade of trying to figure it out, then we should stop any city money and/or effort from going toward the road until we've got it figured out. Otherwise, we're just throwing money away (in a city that says it had $6 billion in needed infrastructure repairs and improvements that it cannot hope to actually fund).

(Also, why do the Mayor and other road supporters talk about this road as some sort of gift to South Dallas? You don't think that if we went into South Dallas and started looking around, we couldn't find $1.8 billion worth of things to fund that would be of greater benefit to South Dallas? Especially given that there's probably at least $1.8 billion in needed infrastructure repairs and improvements that the city has flatly said it cannot afford in South Dallas alone?)

al
al

You forgot to add "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain"!!!

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

I'm not making any decisions until Not-Mayor-Mike weighs in with his opinions.

Cujo
Cujo

I can't wait to see that letter from the Army Corps of Engineers. I expect to see it right about the same time as the solar powered water taxis, the Ted Kennedy presidency and my taxes lowered. Then again, the 90% of registered voters who didn't vote made his decision for him.

Guest
Guest

So what we're potentially looking at is a city with nearly $6 billion in infrastructure needs that can't be done because the tax revenues won't support a bond issue bigger than $600 million or so this year is going to put $1 billion or more in bonds up for a vote to build a road that isn't needed and that might increase flood danger downtown?

Mountain Creek
Mountain Creek

The Corps will say it's safe.  Just like they say Joe Pool Lake is safe, and not to worry, nobody downstream of Joe Pool Lake has anything to worry about (which they didn't say, and which nobody reported, except that paper in Fort Worth).

RC
RC

Jim, congrats on your New York Times mention!

Downtownworker
Downtownworker

Jim, can you please ask the mayor why he doesn't have someone from the CityDesign Studio up there with him and, if he could, would they have this person come up and tell us how the CityDesign Studio feels that a freeway next to a park is good urban design? Thank you.

billmarvel
billmarvel

I dunno. Maybe it's just me, but I prefer reporting done after the event.

Daily Reader
Daily Reader

I try to stay off the existing toll roads so I'm sure as hell not going to pay to get on one in the river which I hope doesn't ever get built...Leave the Trinity as is and start the projects that were promised along with the toll road.  The road can't be built with play money so make the most of the area for the citizens to use.  I'm still waiting to get on the solar powered water taxi's.

S Aten
S Aten

I believe the correct term is "Guilt by Association".  If you hang with gang members, then you must be a gangster.

dallasmay
dallasmay

For the rare chance that Mayor Mike completely disregards the opinions of the vast majority of the citizens of Dallas, I have taken the liberty to print out his Facebook page and upload the PDF to my google drive: https://docs.google.com/open?i...

You know, for safe keeping.

Matthew Gunter
Matthew Gunter

Thank goodness there is no money to build this stupid road.

claytonauger
claytonauger

I wonder how they're going to mange to drive on a freeway with so many drilling rigs in the-right-of-way.

mikeylikesit
mikeylikesit

Somebody ask Neuman how he feels about the part he played in helping fry the Nasher Sculpture Garden.  By voting for our Police and Firemen's Pension fund to pay for the magifying glass aimed at it, he certainly is highly culpable.

Sportser Sportsum
Sportser Sportsum

How many folks gonna be wearing earbuds listening to TEX@TOR? (gotta work some baseball into this damn site every once in a while).

Darment
Darment

So, why ask for opinions on facebook, and then simply ignore them?

wilme2
wilme2

Thank you for this non-story.  Made me smile. 

Angela Hunt, lead the fight again - I will volunteer to be your "henchperson" (is the plural hencepeople?) on this project to the best of my ability...

CrackerDaddy
CrackerDaddy

Mayor Mike needs to start paying back the DCC for putting him in office.  Today is a good step towards that.  Wonder if they'll be serving kool-aid at this function?????

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Well I guess If all the Popular Kids want to do it then its OKAY by me .

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

So he's going to have an Army Corp rep there to give their blessing?

No? That's what I thought.

txnomad
txnomad

This will all the be the least of their worries if the zebra mussels end up in the Trinity.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

If Rawlings is going to regurgitate Leppert's non-statements from 2007, surely Jim can be excused for doing the same with the analysis.

Guest
Guest

You're such a traditionalist.

"Before-the-fact" is the new way. Even the Austin Crime Lab has gotten to the point where they get the results for many tests before the tests are even performed.

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

I dunno, but I think Jim wrote somewhere is this blog post of his, "let's pretend". So, this isn't really technically reporting.....I think it has more to do with theorizing. I dunno.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

But if we don't have a toll road how will we justify new construction that one of the old-money Methuselahs can slap their name and "cement" their legacy? They're too old for parks.

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

I feel ya, but I don't believe the vast majority of citizens even responded. Leaving me to believe that most likely....that vast majority of citizens probably don't give a WAHOO as to what happens. 

Amesbury
Amesbury

 Plenty of investor money.  The Dallas Boosters have figured out a way to profit from the traffic congestion in Dallas

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

Somebody in another UP post comment noted that they'll end up funding it in one of the upcoming bond elections, look for it to get pimped in Dallas's only local daily soon.

JimS
JimS

Sadly, there will be money. Your money. 

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

Drilling on the west, toll road on the east. Map coming soon. Promise.

db
db

Sign me up too

2T
2T

Bingo!

JimS
JimS

Very good bet. Look for tiny bee-bees of sweat on the Corps guy's brow and a smile like a dog with the chuck horrors.

NewsDog
NewsDog

No, they will have a retired Corps of Engineers guy there acting as a Consultant.

billmarvel
billmarvel

Oh. You mean theorizing. Like pundits do. Like the Sunday morning thumb-sucking shows. (Actually, tranny, I knew that all along. I was just pretending to take him seriously.)

Daily Reader
Daily Reader

 Let them scratch their names in the concrete on the Arboretum parking lot that most assuredly will get built.

Downtownworker
Downtownworker

There is absolutely NO WAY that a bond election to fund this monstrosity would pass.

JimS
JimS

He will say  that there is a new team at the Corps and they think the toll road will be safe as hell and they are going to approve it. And he will be right. About the approval, not the safety. It's "The Corps Does Katrina" all over again.

billmarvel
billmarvel

Mad angry, or mad crazy? If the former, good gracious no. Not mad at anybody, no how, no time. If the latter...well, you'll just have to judge for yourself.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

 Clearly you forget .When it comes to voting in this town ...Yes means No No Means Yes .An then we have a toll way !

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