Big Road Project Downtown Exposes City Hall's Big Lie

Categories: Schutze

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Every once in a while life provides us with a major reality check, which can be good or bad, depending on our relationship with reality. The news yesterday that the massive reconstruction of Dallas' downtown freeways is about to get under way at long last contained one very big reality check -- a thing I do not want anybody to miss.

The so-called "horseshoe project" is a basic rebuild and expansion of the huge knotted nest of freeway intersections and approaches and exit ramps and service roads where Interstate 30 and I-35E crash into each other downtown at the Trinity River. It's like a gigantic granny knot in the shoelaces of the city.

We've known for a long time that all of this was to be redesigned and rebuilt. That's not my reality check. The reality check is this: They are going to do all of it without building the Trinity River Toll Road as a so-called "reliever route" or detour.

Remember? That was the line. Oh, we can't possibly take on a huge project like rebuilding the existing freeways downtown until we have the Trinity River Toll Road to act as a detour for all the misplaced traffic.

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TXDOT
That was always utter bullshit. You don't build an entire new freeway to act as a construction detour for another freeway. That's just crazy talk. If you need detour, you make a detour. Not a freeway.

Just for grins, take a gander at the Texas Department of Transportation PDF document online describing the horseshoe deal. It says in plain English that they will handle traffic in this entire massive project exactly the way they did in construction of the huge "High Five" intersection at Central Expressway and LBJ Freeway -- by never cutting off traffic during peak travel times, carrying all of the peak traffic along the same route it travels along now using plain-Jane regular old detours alongside the existing roadway.

In fact the contractor gets fined if they cut off traffic during rush-hour and force it to go elsewhere. Here's TxDOT's language: "Traffic will be maintained on the entire project with lane and ramp closures when necessary. The proposed contract includes financial penalties for closing lanes during peak travel times.

"Complete road closures, if necessary, will be performed during off-peak hours. Closure and detour signs will be posted well in advance and will also be communicated through regular avenues of communication, i.e. website, mobile alerts, email notifications and news releases."

Yeah. Detours. That's what they will use for detours. Detours. Not a new expressway. That story -- that they needed to build a new expressway to act as a detour for the downtown freeway rebuilds -- was an example of City Hall's willingness to say any kind of crazy shit in order to get what it wants.

They just want that road. The powers that be in the city, including people who believe a new toll road on top of the river will benefit their landholdings and interests, just want the road. So they will say anything to get it.

But if you keep your eye on these people over time, major reality checks do come along and do expose their transparent galling duplicity. Let me give you another example. Back when they were pitching the Margaret Hunt Hill Calatrava Bridge to Absolutely Nowhere as a great investment for the city, city staff showed the City Council a so-called economic projection they said proved there would be all kinds of major development around the bridge as soon as it opened. In fact they said there was already one huge entity lined up with plans for a big complex right at the foot of the bridge.

I asked who it was. They wouldn't say. I asked for a copy of the detailed study under the Texas Public Information Act. They wouldn't give it to me. The issue went to the Texas Attorney General. He wouldn't give it to me. So I went the old-fashioned route and got somebody to slip me a copy (later confirmed as authentic by city staff) in a brown envelope in the basement of City Hall. That's called the Dallas Observer Information Act.

Guess who the huge secret party was planning to build a big complex at the foot of the bridge? It was city staff! They were going to build their own complex. But I guess they were shy about it, since nobody had ever said a word of such a project.

OK, reality check. Go look at the bridge now. It's up and running. Do you see a big shiny new government complex anywhere near it? I don't see a damn thing. The only thing I see is some guys over on the West Dallas side who say they're going to have a bunch of restaurants in a warehouse, an idea based on a whole new concept in real estate development: "Not location, not location, not location."

If you watch these things emerge over time, eventually reality will emerge. And these major reality checks tell us what value to put on all of the big public assertions that come from City Hall when they just want something. These were two big assertions: 1) Every time you repair a freeway, you have to build another freeway as a detour. 2) Bridges cause development booms. So now we see what they were worth. Don't even get me started on horse parks.


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36 comments
1dailyreader
1dailyreader

So I went the old-fashioned route and got somebody to slip me a copy (later confirmed as authentic by city staff) in a brown envelope in the basement of City Hall. That's called the Dallas Observer Information Act.   

 

Bravo, Bravo.....I knew you would find the dirt on this deal.

kduble
kduble

The reliever route rationale is clearly dead. Horseshoe will have been completed before a Trinity Tollway could open.

smichaelclark59
smichaelclark59

Why can we not fire some of these city staff people that are doing such a horrible job for the last 20 years?

roo_ster
roo_ster

Good news.

 

I am normally in favor of more & more better roads.  Gonna build another multi-lane highway through the hood so we can get in & out faster?  I am all for it.  Re-pave and re-design the old intersection?  Ayup.  Pave the rainforest?  Sign me up.

 

But only a nitwit builds anything in a flood plain _except a bridge over the danged flood plain_.  Why?  I hear such locations are prone to flooding.

 

Who knew?

MisterMean
MisterMean

The city council and staff are crooks. Leppert is one of the biggest ones too.  One wonders how the tea party nut cakes/whack-jobs got started-it was this type of crap (along with hate by the religious right) that fueled them.   I can sleep knowing that I did not vote for the latest bond proposal (who knows in reality what that money will be used for except to enable this type of mismanagement crap).   Again for each lie they tell they need a tongue piercing.   They probably would have so much metal in their mouths that they would not be able to speak coherently.   I am disgusted by our city/county government (as usual).

Bobtex
Bobtex

Every time you write "Bridge to (Absolutely) Nowhere" someone dies in West Dallas. But, I guess that doesn't matter to you, since they live, or work, or do business, in Nowhere.

sparr75154
sparr75154

OK, you can call BS on the Trinity Toll Road all you want but leave the bridge alone.  The South side of the Trinity is just getting started.  Give it ten years my friend.  And if the city of Dallas stays out of the way, maybe sooner.

darrd2010
darrd2010

Yeah, let's talk about Horse Parks in South Dallas for SMU riders and also, Lucy Crow Billingsley turning a floodplain into a NON floodplain for her development at North Lake that features a gas drilling pad site built by Trevor Rees Jones. She claims no knowledge of it. Then let's talk about how Trinity East Energy has been giving tours of LB Houston Golf Course to certain City Council members over the past 10 days telling them how safe gas drilling is and they would be a great neighbor to have in the middle of the golf course. Oh Jim, we have plenty to talk about if you're willing to go there.

drtz
drtz

This is almost just as bad as the Trinity project.  We're spending almost $1 billion to move more cars past downtown, while Dallas simultaneously continues spending buckets of cash to give developers incentive to develop near downtown.  Remind me, how exactly is the Horseshoe project helping Dallas?

LDR4
LDR4

So can we send heaps of money to a Cleveland firm to have them study the idea of naming this thing? That seems like a trend that's en vogue. Why not have Cuisinart or Kitchenaid put their name on it?

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

But what are we gonna call it?

Horseshoe is horseshit.

I vote for "Higher 5"

observist
observist

So both the east-west interstate routes across the metroplex (I-30, I-635) are going to be under construction at the same time.  Oh goody.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

its about time, 20 yrs too late but better late than never.  And while this will screw up my rush hour drive, I can find alternate routes and when its all done it will all be worth it

WylieH
WylieH

So why doesn't SOMEBODY in the press confront Mary Suhm?

 

This seems like it would be a pretty simple exercise:

 

1)  Just assemble example after example of various lies she and/or her subordinates have uttered over the years.

 

2)  Ask her to explain herself.

 

James080
James080 topcommenter

What about horse parks?

 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @MisterMean "had enough? Vote Republican"   Stupidest signs ever, since every state wide office is Republican, how is voting Republican anything but a continuation of the same old shit?

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

 @Bobtex If you had a clue, you'd know that the folks in West Dallas have been telling the developers to go jump in the Trinity. They don't want to sell their homes for nothing so some connected insiders can get rich.

Romano's trailer park restaurant is about all they're gonna get out of this boondoggle. No shiny high-rises. No strip malls.

MisterMean
MisterMean

 @Bobtex What a twisted bit of logic.  I bet that you could say that about the sun rising in the morning too.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @drtz It's better than the Trinity plan, where we've already spent over $180million so far.

Mervis
Mervis

@observist I-635 is only in Dallas County and is only underconstruction in North Dallas. I-30 does not have any other construction on it right now. Are you geographically challenged?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @observist there is always the toll roads GBT or SRT, or 20, but who wants to get on 20 to navigate DFW

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

 @WylieH Because everyone is afraid of her and the DCC protects her. I find it quite interesting that NO ONE in the Dallas media goes after her. The old gal must have some pretty big balls and is not afraid to show them.

MisterMean
MisterMean

 @scottindallas Have noted a few in my hood.   Kind of like having a t shirt saying "Look at me!   I am Stupid"

observist
observist

 @Mervis  @observist I guess it depends on where you're coming from, Merv.  If you're in East Dallas and want to get to Las Colinas, you can take I-30 through downtown to I-35, or 75 north to 635 west.  If they start construction on the I-30/I-35 instersection downtown, as discussed in this article, both routes with be under construction.

 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @observist  @Mervis If you're in East Dallas trying to get to Irving, there's no great route.  NW Highway is the best bet from my perspective.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @Double-O-Joe  @MichaelinLH So I guess you don't know about Schutzanella disease. Comes from swallowing what City Hall tells you.

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