The Lies Keep Rollin' on the Trinity River Toll Road

Categories: Schutze

SHZ_GetOffMyLawn_TitleImageV2.jpg
While I was away on vacation The Dallas Morning News published an editorial saying Angela Hunt, Scott Griggs and Sandy Greyson, our three brainiacs on the City Council, are stupid, don't know how to add and came up with all the wrong conclusions about the News' favorite project, the idea of building a new expressway in the flood zone out between the flood control levees along the Trinity River cutting off downtown from the city's only waterfront.

The News likes it. Hunt, Griggs and Greyson do not. They think building a highway in the flood zone is stupid.

One thing, stuff in flood zones floods. Duh. Other thing, why on earth in the year 2012 would a modern city ruin its only significant natural asset for a highway? Double duh.

But third thing, in recent months the council's intrepid transit trio have excavated state highway data revealing there is another much cheaper much more efficient solution to the city's supposed congestion problems. Instead of building an entire new highway on top of the river we should fix the highways we already have downtown.

pegasus painting.jpg
Let's be honest: If God himself rode one of these from heaven and told the Trinity toll road crowd their road was a bad idea, they still wouldn't listen.
That project, called Pegasus, will move almost twice as many additional cars as the flood-zone toll road and do it at higher speeds with a third less congestion and at half the cost. Pretty tough to argue with that, wouldn't you say?

Well, you know what? Speaking as a former editorial writer myself, I can tell you that a person can argue against anything if his boss tells him to and it's a condition of continued employment. So from the editorialistos at the Morning News we got this absolutely tortured logic telling us that the trio got their math all wrong and the new $2 billion underwater road favored by the News is way better.

How'd they do that? Easy. It's called typing. They found a single measurement by which the underwater route comes out ahead. And in my mind's eye I can see that moment in the editorial department when some editorial writer sticks his head up from his cubicle and shouts, "Hey, I found something good about it!"

It's called capacity. Capacity is a measurement of how much new pavement you pour. Lots of new pavement equals lots of capacity. Stands to reason if you build an entire new highway you'll pour a lot more new pavement than if you just take the bottlenecks out of the highways you already have.

The problems with capacity is this: What if the new pavement goes where nobody wants to drive? Like new pavement to some guy's farm in Ennis County? See what I mean? It's capacity, yeah, but it's empty capacity, because nobody wants to go there.

The real measurement, the one the federal highway authority and anybody else with any sense uses, is called "congestion mitigation." Its a measurement of how well you unsnarl the traffic you already have on the roads that go where people already want to go.

When you look at congestion mitigation, the Project Pegasus solution championed by the intrepid transit trio slaughters the new underwater highway in the flood zone. Pegasus is the one that comes out way more efficient and way cheaper.

But the editorial writers said, no, forget congestion mitigation. What we need to be proud of around this town is pouring new pavement, whether anybody wants to drive on it or not. Yeah. And like I say, I feel the editorial writers' pain. Mouths to feed, roofs to repair, bosses to keep happy. I get it.

In brushing up again on congestion mitigation, however, I stumbled on one major issue that the News and their lackeys at the North Central Texas Soviet Council of Governments seem to be ignoring: In the most recent transportation bill in Washington, major emphasis and major funding preferences were placed on congestion mitigation and clean air.

I bet nobody has done a good analysis of the money we stand to lose if we forgo an opportunity to achieve significant gains in congestion mitigation and air quality improvement in favor of more new pavement.

In the end, it's just this simple: the people who own The Morning News really really want to see that toll road built on top of the river. I don't know why. Maybe somebody's crazy.

But if the intrepid trio came up with evidence that putting a new road out there will collapse the levees and kill us all, the editorial page of the News would call it a splendid boating opportunity.

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35 comments
EastDallasResident
EastDallasResident

The real question may be who on city council, and maybe in the mayor's office, is getting payolla from the concrete companies?  If there is one industry in the world to worry about, it's the concrete industry.  Those folks stand to make a ton of money from pouring concrete in the flood plain - and I'd bet there's a lot more concrete in the Trinity project than in Pegasus.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Hannibal: people are already expressing their wishes about where they want to g by driving on the highways we already have downtown. They'd just like to get there with less hassle, which is why we should fix those highways. Building a new road is clearly not about relieving congestion, as the News' editorial unwittingly and unwittedly reveals. It's about creating new demand, luring new traffic to a redeveloped Stemmons industrial corridor. The joke there is that the development scheme itself is based on a mid-century access-is-success concept of urban development that flies in the face of everything we know about successful urban residential (walkable) development in the 21st century. It's a dumb idea chasing a dumber idea -- what you get when local power is in the hands of dumb rich people, by which I mean rich people who happen to be dumb.

patrick.j.kennedy
patrick.j.kennedy

Another problem w/ capacity is that it generates its own demand, thus forcing people into cars and pushing the things we want to connect to further and further apart.  More capacity only temporarily alleviates congestion.  This has been proven over and over again.  Spending money to exacerbate the problem.  And not only does it cost money, it costs more money the second time around when there is no tax base left to pay for it.  

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

What is it with Jim Shmutz and this Trinity toll road thing?  An article every other week, already.

Edward
Edward

Are the DMN, Suhm and the rest just too embarrassed to say "Whoops! We were crazy! You were right. Let's do what makes sense"?

 

I mean, why else do they keep beating this thing to death? I knew that everyone says "how high" when the construction people want something, but sheesh - how do they sleep at night?

Hannibal_Lecter
Hannibal_Lecter

"ruin its only significant natural asset for a highway"

 

The Trinity "River" near downtown is as natural as Central Expressway. It is a man-made drainage ditch, in some places over half a mile from the original course. There's nothing natural about it. Water draining from the surrounding area can't even make it into the river basin except via the giant pumping stations to get it over the levees. 

 

To call the Trinity "natural" is a joke, and shows a disregard for the facts. 

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

Yes, but think how many mosquitoes a coupla dozen cars barreling down the Trinity River bottom at 75 mph would kill.

Texaspainter
Texaspainter

Linda Koop, head of the Environmental Committee is going to introduce the new Sustanibility Plan at tomorrows council meeting. Scanning it, I see items about protecting the floodplain, the river, reducing air emissions, ground water protection,etc. It also mentions the forwarddallas plan that everyone at City Hall tries to ignore because of its very plain language stating that Dallas residents really do care about what's happening around to the Dallas environment. I'm trying to wrap my brain around the timing of this new 'green' plan and pairing it up with forwarddallas. I guess the council,Mike, and Mary figure that they needed to plant some'look what we did for you' stories on record. Right now,City Hall looks pretty inept. With recent stories of how they bungled WNV, judges appointments,and pretty much everything they touch, seeing this plan being presented and implemented beginning tomorrow will require a masters touch and that does not exist at 1500 Marilla. Based on the requirements of the two plans, let's see how they can continue to justify the toll road,and shale gas production that is slated for not only the city but inside the floodplains. Yes, a masters touch will be required.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

TxDoT’s East Corridor Plan marries up to the Pegasus Plan downtown.  The East Corridor plan drops R.L. Thornton below grade, expands it to nineteen lanes, and deckpark’s the 2nd Ave/I-30 interchange ala Woodall Rogers.  But, it is no longer funded.  It also cures the Mill Creek drainage problem.  The Trinity deal is just too big for us to pay for right now.  Here is a link:

 

http://www.theeastcorridor.org/overview.html

 

Here is the TxDot’s Plan (in PDF) for the Fair Park area, along the City’s letter kissing the paper on it.

 

https://www.onlinefilefolder.com/1sIK6l1DP7EVuX

 

This plan is a lot more doable, refires Fair Park for development (and God knows it needs it), fixes the Mill Creek Drainage problem, and “mitigates the congestion” of the over 200,000 cars a day that poke along R.L. Thornton at peak drive times.

 

Of course, the DMN Ed Board doesn’t like it because it doesn’t point South.

 

As for the Trinity?  Dam it and shock it til it’s nice and blue.  North Dallas would love it like a $100 million dollar Calatrava Bridge ‘cuzz it’d be pretty.

 

observist
observist topcommenter

 @patrick.j.kennedy Damn!  I really wanted to ride my bike, but now there's a new road so I'm FORCED to drive.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

 @patrick.j.kennedy Your "proof" is actually correlation, not causality...

 

I understand that you are arguing for a point of view, but "facts" make proof, not correlations. 

PerryMoore
PerryMoore

Some people have a cause. Mr Schutze has a crusade.

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

 @Edward They do it because there is a motive to do it and it's about money and power. And they sleep quite well at night because most Dallas residents don't read.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

 @Hannibal_Lecter I caught on the same point.  I would think that Lake Ray Hubbard, Lake Lewisville, Joe Pool, or any of the State Parks in the area are better candidates for "significant Natural Asset" status...  Hell, even Bachman Lake and White Rock Lake seem better suited than the Trinity...

RTGolden
RTGolden

 @Hannibal_Lecter The article is arguing reality and you're countering with semantics.  Here's a little tidbit for you: Every river, stream, creek,  slough, and brook on the entire planet is a drainage ditch.  What exactly do you think these waterways are doing?  They're draining water from a place of higher elevation to a place of lower elevation.

 

If we have altered the course of the river, for whatever reason, that doesn't change the river itself into an un-natural feature.  The river was there when we got here, it will be there when we're gone.  Regardless of whether the river is bubbling along in time-worn natural banks or in the constraints built by man, to further develop it, to place yet more concrete around or over it would be a shame.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @holmantx East Corridor stuff is really interesting. Amazing how they can do those managed lanes downtown when Michael Morris at NCTCG says they can't be done. Also I have to think really hard about whether I can ever forgive Tim Nesbitt for propagating what he knew to be a lie about the necessity of doing the Trinity toll road as a construction detour for Pegasus. But it is interesting stuff. Got my thinking cap on about Nesbitt. Man's gotta keep a roof over.   

observist
observist topcommenter

@holmantx   But Holman, what does all that have to do with the Affordable Care Act?

robbysalz
robbysalz

 @observist  @patrick.j.kennedy That's kind of the point. More roads=more cars=more roads ad nauseum. It's that simple.

 

Giving roads to drivers is like giving cash to panhandlers-it's coddling.

Hannibal_Lecter
Hannibal_Lecter

 @PlanoDave  @patrick.j.kennedy PlanoDave, in Kennedy's mind cars are like cockroaches, traveling around in circles and not serving any purpose but to annoy him. He just can't comprehend that every one one of those cars contains people going where they want, when they want, to do what they want.

 

The freedom that automobiles and the highway network provides has no value to him. He thinks everyone's universe should be as small as his own. 

RTGolden
RTGolden

 @PlanoDave  @Hannibal_Lecter Actually, with reservoirs being a standing body of water  where a standing body of water should not exist; and the river being a moving course of water where a moving course of water should exist, the reverse is true.  The river was here, it belongs here.  The lakes are nice, they're needed, but they don't belong here.  If mankind were to stop jacking around with water from here on out, the lakes would eventually silt up, or top their dams, yet the river would remain, doing what it does.

 

This argument that the Trinity is "not natural" is asinine.  It is a natural feature that has been misused and polluted by people, but it is still a natural feature.  With some effort, we could clean it up, make it nice again.  Or we could build a damn highway on it and pollute it up some more.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

 @JimSX I went out to the TxDoT District office at the I-30/US 80 split and spoke to Nesbitt about the 2nd Ave/I-30 upgrade part (just west of where the Pegasus ties in).  He basically said that the East Corridor Plan didn't make the Fed Stimulus proceeds A list however, it was hoped that projects which DID make the list would make room on the Texas budget for the East Corridor project.  It now sits like a forlorn orphan hard by the old Pearlstone Grain Elevator.

 

But Baylor wants it (improves emergency room access to I-30).  The City wants it.  Fair Park wants it.  DART has signed off on it.  And the traffic congestion warrants it.

 

The only problem is, it points toward Hank Hill Country (ha!).

robbysalz
robbysalz

 @Hannibal_Lecter  @PlanoDave  @patrick.j.kennedy Not every one of those cars. I drive from Fort Worth to Dallas every day wishing someone else would be driving me. That would give me the freedom of nearly two hours a day to peacefully read on my commute.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

Apparently the concepts Kennedy pointed to went right over Hannibal's head. I'll try to make it simple enough that he might understand.

 

Do you believe the highways such as I35E and I-30 are congested?

If you answered yes, and really yes is the only factual answer, adding the Trinity River Toll Road will not alleviate that congestion. In fact, as the link Kennedy provided states, " increased provision of highways and major urban roads is unlikely to relieve congestion of these roads". IOW adding a new freeway, i.e. The Trinity River Toll Road, will not reduce the congestion on the mentioned freeways; in fact, adding more highways that feed into these mentioned freeways will likely INCREASE the congestion.

 

Note the phrase Jim uses in his article: congestion mitigation. You apparently missed this phrase, so let me explain it so you can understand it.

 

Money is best spent not priortitizing added capacity but put monies into improvements that allow traffic to flow better. Don't encourage more vehicles to come onto already full lanes of freeways, allow the vehicles that are already using the freeways to move better.

 

Therefore people who are going where they want, when they want, won't get stuck in traffic stoppage, which is definitely NOT what they want to do.

 

 

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

 @Hannibal_Lecter  I am working hard to look at facts, not motives, these days.  It really feels that we are shunning empirical facts for subjective arguments these days and it seems to be driving us farther apart, rather than helping us find common ground.

 

I know I am just a single person and highly unlikely to change things, but I don't like to do what I hate...

patrick.j.kennedy
patrick.j.kennedy

 @PlanoDave That is in no way what I'm saying. Places are the size they are due to the demand inherent via opportunity afforded by network integration, access to markets: local plus global interconnectivity, the complexity and density of the networks.  There isn't much intersecting I-40 in New Mexico.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

 @patrick.j.kennedy By your logic, Santa Rosa, NM should be a bigger city than it is, because I-40 runs though it....

 

You are saying that by making it easier to get where people want to get, more people go.  And then you are blaming that on the bigger roads.  That is a logical fallacy and does not stand up.

 

Sorry, no disrespect intended, but the argument doesn't stand up.

RTGolden
RTGolden

 @PlanoDave  @RTGolden So... when the flow is managed by building a dam, it's still "natural", but when it's managed by levee's it's not?

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

 @RTGolden  Dude, you do realize that water does flow through a reservoir, right?

 

If there were no flow, all the fish would die and algae would take over.  It's just that the flow is managed in order to maintain the lake.  

 

For a good example, check out the flow rates for the release of water from Canyon Lake.  That one is easily found because the river downstream is great for canoeing and kayaking.

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