Yesterday Was a Sad Day for Dallas

Categories: City Hall, Schutze

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I sat in the front row of the folding chairs yesterday and gazed around the ceremonial "flag room" at City Hall. Mayor Mike Rawlings and a majority of the Dallas city council were ganged up around the podium endorsing a plan to build a two-billion-dollar toll road next to the Trinity River between downtown and Oak Cliff.

Leaning against the long inside wall of the room like crows on a wire were the old rich white guys in suits, representing the city's traditional elite. Most of the chairs behind me were filled with their claque, an array of people who depend on them for jobs or appointments.

At the front of the room in the first row was the ever-dwindling and meager little pack of local reporters who still cover this sort of thing. And then to our right, outside I.M. Pei's glowering wall of glass, was the city, blanched and beleaguered on this warm windy day, gazing back at us as if hoping somebody in here would know what to do.

The whole thing was sad.

The basic concept -- wreck the riverfront to build a highway -- is an absurd buggy whip of an idea, an anachronistic concept so out of synch with modern urban reality it would be laughable if it didn't involve ruining this city's only natural geographic feature.

The mayor engaged in a serious amount of double-talk about regionalism and gridlock, knowing full well that none of that is the reason for this road. It was left to southern Dallas council person Vonciel Hill to blurt the truth -- at least what she's been told is the truth by the rich crows on the wire -- that, "where the road goes go the dollars." They think doing this will make them money. That's the real joke. Their secret agenda is a stupid agenda.

The ancient white leadership of the city has sold the hungry black leadership of the city on the notion that building a superhighway along the river will promote real estate development along its route, eventually including the tail-end of that route in black southern Dallas.

That's the stupid. That's the buggy whip. It won't work in black Dallas. It won't work in white Dallas. It won't work. The crows on the wire don't understand that urban districts don't grow on highways any more, if they ever did. They understand nothing about how the new inverted cities of the 21st century grow or why.

It's interesting that these people who have maintained relatively tight control over City Hall all these years actually made most of their own money on suburban raw-land development, betting successfully on flight.

Their basic template -- "access is success" -- comes from the 'burbs. That's what they are trying to replicate along the Trinity River. In their culture, bicycles are for village idiots; the only people who walk around are burglars; if you really want to see nature, get a plane ticket.

The crows on a wire really and truly believe that building a honking, roaring, stinking expressway on top of the river is going to make a lot of rich people want to come live in condo towers along the expressway. And people like Vonciel Hill really believe that the rich people have finally divulged how they do it, so she's along for the ride.

It's no ride. It's sad. Really. It's a lot of other things, too. But when I looked out through that big leaning window yesterday at that skyline waiting out there for answers, more than anything else I felt sad for our city.


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169 comments
Brenda Leigh
Brenda Leigh

Let them build the gd road; boost the local economy (jobs) and then the 5 rich people can pay the tolls for the next 15 centuries until it is paid off!

David Fury
David Fury

I hear your lament in the article, but unless I am mistaken (which I am sure I am not), I followed up on this plan about building a toll road along the Trinity River flood plain when it was first presented, about 4 years ago. First, it will be along the levees, not a "riverfront" (as per the projected plan before), and I have to note that in your article you said that this project would "wreck the city's only natural geographic feature", which is inaccurate. The levee system and the flood system for the city was built by the Army Corp of Engineers. And, this same corp ALSO pointed out to the leaders of the city before that such a tollway would NOT be feasible. One, the levee system would have to be shored up to the Army's Corp's satisfaction AT THE EXPENSE of the city. They will not lay out for it. The entire levee system would have to be redeveloped with reinforced concrete and structural steel, as the natural levees would not withstand such construction as would be imposed on it by a thoroughfare. Two, such redesign, in the Corp's opinion, would have adverse effects on the ability of the system to prevent that for which it was designed-flood control, primarily within downtown and west Dallas. A catastrophic failure of the levee system, as per the Corp's projections, would mean that the entire downtown area could end up under 3-4 feet of water if we got 2 inches of rainfall citywide, in a hour. Imagine what the flooding might be during our typical rains (such as we have gotten recently) when we get 6-8 inches of a span of 2-3 days. As such, I don't believe this project will go forward, as the Army Corp stopped this madness before and is likely to step in again.

Beerme
Beerme

I work in the design district with a bunch of 20-somethings that live and work here as well. Just as this batch of kids is getting interested in the area, these old fuckers are going to destroy any possible awesomeness that the TRP would create. The fact is that no, a road will not be a nice thing to have next to a river park. That's almost as fun as living at Frankford and George Bush. 

Bbetzen
Bbetzen

Should Dallas sacrifice the last natural oaisis of quiet near downtown for the sake of through traffic?

This basic question can be boiled down to 8 words: "Sacrifice last oasis of quiet for through traffic?" 

Such signs could greet people gathering for any meeting on this true issue of peace, and quiet.  What are we trading away and what is the gain?

Urbandweller203
Urbandweller203

This entire plan appear to be a blast from the past strategy. Just build a highway and wipe out that side of South Dallas. IF the development follows, most current residents will not be able to enjoy the new area because they will not be living in South Dallas.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

As long as Black Dallas does White Dallas' bidding, this stuff will continue to happen. When they wake up and quit being someone's water bearer, then things will change.

Travis Rex
Travis Rex

 All they need to do is get the Park Cities ladies that sold everyone on the Calatrava bridge to sell this one for them..done deal..$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Lyonheart1980
Lyonheart1980

One of the rare times I agree with you Jim. This is beyond stupid. There's a lot of things the city could do to bring in new development, but a fracking toll road is not one of them.

I've always found it interesting that we are the only city in the world that decided to use the river only as a barrier and not engage it.

chasd00
chasd00

"rich crows on the wire"

is that a reference to Dumbo? ...to the most racially controversial part of Dumbo?? From JimS!!??? hahahhahaha

primi_timpano
primi_timpano

 Leppert (creepy campaign ads)? Rawlings (dissembling shill)?  That is not the kind of change I'm talking about.  I'm looking for more members like Griggs and Hunt. a mayor not controlled by the DCC, and maybe a manager who is not the reincarnation of Cardinal Richlieu.  You vote the same you get the same.  And this kind of reset is not beyond reach.  It takes very few votes to swing a lot of council districts.  Mayor is a different story, but a strong council can slap down a mayor.

Mo
Mo

This is a great day from one perspective:

We now know that Mike Rawlings is nothing more than a disguised Tom Leppert!!!!! 

Minus the pin-striped car salesman suit that Leppert loves to wear. 

Pizza Mike, nothing more than Sell-out for Dallas Citizens and Taxpayers. We have had a few of those in the past, and now he fits right in. 

Bbetzen
Bbetzen

http://www.ipetitions.com/peti...  is a petition with one simple statement: "I do not support the creation of a Trinity River Floodway Toll Road in Dallas."   If you agree, please sign and circulate.

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

Two billion dollars?  Why, for that much money we could build four more hotels!

Now that I think about it, building four hotels in the floodplain makes more sense than building a toll road there.

Bbetzen
Bbetzen

I searched for and could not find any petitions being circulated on this critical issue for those of us living in Dallas, so I started one: http://www.ipetitions.com/peti....   If it does not get circulated and develop a life of it's own with hundreds of signatures, then maybe there is not enough energy to stop this terrible river bottom toll road!   Please help this become well known.  Share it with anyone you think may be interested.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Strike 1- RedistrictingStrike 2- The people endorsed for DISD BOTStrike 3- Trinity Tollway There enough said.

Cgrayson68
Cgrayson68

What will happen is they will contract or "sell" the job to a foreign company who will then get tax breaks and dollars as incentive to build it, then the foreign company will charge and collect the toll indefinately NOT just until the road is paid off like 30 was, after spending millions to get this foreign company to do this Dallas will never see one penny back from it but will pay and pay to use it. (sounding familiar?) and to top it off it will not help the Southern Sector any more than the bridge attrocity has helped West Dallas, coming in at a whopping 145 million OVER BUDGET!!!! You know, the 185 million dollar bridge to nowhere. Which WE didn't even get JOBS out of because they "imported" Italian workers!!!! (sounding similar to another recent toll project?)

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Lookee!   A dead horse has risen again!   And the zombie city council, staff and the DCC is gathered to celebrate a brain dead project. Maybe the Dallas Police and Fireman’s Pension Fund will fund this one too.   What the Dallas needs is a highway/toll road, in addition to the Trinity River Levees, to form a barrier dividing the city.   As for money and development, if it does come then expect the property taxes (values by the DCAD) to climb forcing the existing residence out. We need to have more accountability from those zombies that run our city.  When this fails (as it will) the funds that were wasted (squandered) on this should be clawed back from the city council, staff and the members of the DCC (and Belo too).  

Montemalone
Montemalone

It's the same reason DART is just a commuter rail system. Trains don't even go to any area airport.We should have built a city transit system, but then those folks aren't giving up their Lexi to hoof it from home to station.

Texas ex-Pat in Atlanta
Texas ex-Pat in Atlanta

Well written. Reveals the truth about the power players and second-tier power playahs, everywhere everywhere. Hubris, greed, and ignorance are colorblind. Very sad, indeed.

Texasdave60
Texasdave60

my friend, you've nailed it.  My City Government, you are failing me.

Garlan
Garlan

As usual Schutze is a nattering nabobof negativism. He fails to see the beauty of this project. Dallasneed never have any funding problems. When funds get tight Dallascan have another bond election for the lakes and sail boats. Whystop at two?

 

SpeedbumpJoey
SpeedbumpJoey

So true, and it is sad to know that we're wasting money on this. When the real money needs to be spent on the 30/35 mixmaster interchange, and along 35 north of Downtown. Oh well have fun with the money grab, and thanks for ruining our city you scum. You cannot just do a simple leisure project that will help develop that area.

You have Irving/Riverfront Blvd. hell, change that. Improve that. That stretch of road is prime for a revival. And, it already is a reliever route for 35. Just cause it has stop lights doesn't mean that it is not useless. Pathetic.  I can get from Mockingbird and Irving/Riverfront, all the way down to I-30 ridiculously fast on that stretch of road. Why don't they buy up the land that is around that stretch of road? Why don't they improve that road which is already built, within a safe zone from being flooded? It just seems so silly that we cannot make the Trinity into a stretch of gorgeous park space, like a Central park. A place that people would want to go. Why, why, why do people down at City Hall make things so difficult?

I guess that's the money that controls it all down there. Mayor Mike, I believed in you and hoped that you would turn this city from off of it's butt and bring it back up again and make it great, like it should be. You have severely disappointed me. 

Amanda
Amanda

O Lord another person with a "against the man montra". I, having lived in South Dallas all my life and still do, appreciate these crows on a wire. Because we have always had to drive to outlining developed suburbs to enjoy the better stores, restaurants and etc. How lovely would it be to drive down the street to shop instead of 15 miles away. South Dallas could use some serious renovation. And, if that means tearing down the drug filled projects to build a highway that might bring growth. Than let's do it. It would really mean a lot to us. So please stop speaking on behalf of us, Mr. Schutze! With a name like that you probably have never even been in South Dallas except when going to the fair! I appreciate those old crows! To life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for Dallasites!

Bbetzen
Bbetzen

"Should Dallas sacrifice for through traffic?" is a shorter version.  We are certainly loosing much more than just peace and quiet if this floodway toll road is ever built.

Sign the petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/peti...   Please encourage everyone you know to just google Trinity River petition and sign on.  It must be obvious that residents of Dallas do not want this road built.

Ian Mesey
Ian Mesey

would you "rather live in [dallas] or drive through it?"

Lyonheart1980
Lyonheart1980

Maybe if we didn't have the completely asinine system of voting for a city council that then hires a manager that is beholden to them, we wouldn't keep getting these kinds of projects. Just a thought.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Keep in mind that DART is the same organization that thinks controlled access via turnstyles and ticket scanning equipment isn't necessary and increasing ticket prices increases ridership. Knowing them they'll ban luggage on the airport route.

Lonestranger
Lonestranger

I work in South Dallas and your a fool if you think a toll road is going to bring prosperity. I45 did nothing for the area. The projects have already been torn down and the drug dealing is at the car washes. The toll road is about making it easier for people to pass through the area, not stopping.

Montemalone
Montemalone

 Yessir Massa.Thank yous fo the fine new stores, massa.

Do you think another road is gonna make Macy's plop down in Wynnewood?Is Whole Foods gonna replace the Minyards on Lancaster/Ledbetter?Is Cedar Crest gonna be the de riguer CC, forcing DCC to close up shop?

primi_timpano
primi_timpano

 You don't have to build a multibillion dollar highway to advance the war on drugs by demolishing drug dens.  Lots of highways go right through blighted neighborhoods, and neither the highway nor the exits have ameliorated the blight.  S Dallas will get nothing, the local road building machine will get lots.  And what is the deal about a person with a name like Schutze never going to S Dallas?  What about the Bernsteins, McDonalds, Garzas, Polunskys, etc.  What kind of a name does it take to go to S Dallas?

Guest
Guest

Maybe instead of spending billions of taxpayer dollars and cutting essentially city services to pay for this road, we could directly invest hundreds of millions in other projects that would give us more bang for our buck in "renovating" South Dallas?

A road won't change the demographics of the area. It won't tear down any existing housing (drug filled or not). Any redevelopment along this road is going to have to be subsidized by the taxpayers, and much of that we won't be able to afford because we'll be having to cut, cut, cut to pay for the debt service on the road.

cp
cp

If that' what you want for South Dallas, then you should have been supporting the South Dallas Hope Coalition's plan that renown urban planner Antonio DiMambro did. That's the plan that made the most sense, but no one's palms were greased, so it was frowned upon. The City Council representative refused to go to their meetings. 

Oh, PS, I live in South Dallas, too, bought my first and only home there nearly 12 years ago. 

Daniel
Daniel

With all due respect, you, ma'am, have been sold a bill of goods.

Cujo
Cujo

 I'd rather drive around it. I grew up in a big city far worse that Dallas (but better than Detroit or Gary or Camden) and even more polarized and corrupt. While Dallas is much nicer, I'll stick to the suburbs and stop by to visit. There's a bit more control over the amount of corruption in smaller towns and a few miles of distance is a small amount to pay for the safety and education of my family. When you're basically telling me that you get less and less service every year for an increasing amount of taxes, I think it's time to cut your losses. So that's what I did.

MattL1
MattL1

I hope not, with regard to the last one. I like playing Cedar Crest and wouldn't be able to afford it if your prediction were to come true!

JimS
JimS

So, Amanda, after 147 years of freedom and still living in poverty, you believe that South Dallas will finally prosper when the rich white people arrive on its shores in a ship laden with cargo. 

RTGolden
RTGolden

Although I agree the Riverbottom Taxpayer Funded Flash Flood Living Experiment is a really, really bad idea, Amanda does have a point.  People on both sides of this and every other issue use 'for the good of South Dallas...' as their rallying cry.  Yet, time after time, nothing ever gets done in S. Dallas.  Sure, you have your hipster pocket here, your nice enclave there, but for the most part, S. Dallas gets shunted aside whenever one side or the other wins their pissing contests.

Unfortunately, Amanda, the tollroad isn't going to bring development or economic gains to S. Dallas.  It's just going to provide one more path for people to ignore south Dallas at 70 mph (on good day(s)) or bitch about it while stuck in gridlock.  Think of it as yet another S. Dallas bypass.

Amanda
Amanda

I don't expect you to understand, because you don't live where I do.

Cujo
Cujo

 I'm not concerned with the percentage that's improved, I'm much more concerned with the actual percentage that graduated and more importantly the quality of the education obtained. The other issue is that DISD has slanted their curricula to pass tests, not to teach the students to think critically. I won't get into the environment of learning but most Dallas schools seem incapable of fostering this. Obviously this is just my opinion and probably biased but I don't believe that the DISD can supply a quality education as compared to other districts. But that was just a small part of my concerns, having my home broken into twice in less than 24 hours and having the police asking me to call it in, without bothering to at least stop and take a report, was pretty much it. I didn't lose very much at that point, I had already moved out the vast majority of our possessions by that time. When we moved back to DFW, I picked an area that was safe, gated, well protected and patrolled. That the ISD is very highly regarded was a nice touch but not a factor to break the deal. It's a small town and the parts of Dallas I visit are at most 45 minutes away. Y'all are nice people at heart, I just worked too damned hard not to give my family the best I can.

bbetzen
bbetzen

Cujo, have you actually studied the school district you live in and compared it with DISD.   This chart taken from Texas Education Agency enrollment counts may help: http://schoolarchiveproject.bl...   If you see any errors in this chart, please let me know. My email is on the page.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano

 It doesn't seem like S Dallas is very receptive to Korean private investment.  It's a big city and a bigger world.  If I were a developer or retailer I would think more than twice getting involved with the S Dallas shake downs.

Montemalone
Montemalone

 South Dallas is NOT Bishop Arts/Kessler Park.

The reason it's a retail desert is retailers don't want to do business there. i.e., they ain't enough dollars to be made.

Mo
Mo

Wow, the rich white man has done a number on you. Oh, lets not forget the intermediary - your South Dallas Pastor!!! 

primi_timpano
primi_timpano

Maybe you don't understand because you don't live where i live.  Or maybe you just don't understand because you live where you live.  More likely, you just don't understand but are unaware you don't understand.

Daniel
Daniel

Please explain what positive effect this tollway will have. You think South Dallas will be lined with shops and cafes because of a limited-access freeway?

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