Hell Is the Dallas North Tollway This Weekend

Categories: Transportation

Representation of the tollway this weekend.
Not content with bleeding us dry one toll at a time, the North Texas Tollway Authority plans to squeeze traffic to a near standstill in and around downtown this weekend.

Starting at 10 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday, two lanes on each side of the tollway will be closed to allow for bridge repair at Lemmon Avenue and Maple Avenue at Knight Street. The authority is replacing concrete on the bridges' decks.

NTTA spokesman Michael Rey told The Dallas Morning News what anyone masochistic enough to take the DNT over the weekend could expect.

"We do expect delays with the repairs, I will say this," Rey said. "But it's work that has to be done. It's the type of project where you can't do a little bit and come back. We do the weekend closures for a reason. You saw some of it late last year. We're hoping to get it wrapped up this weekend."

Dallas Police Toughen Charges Against French Defense Contractor Accused of Punching Cyclists

A photo of Sebastien Blain from his Google Plus profile, which has since been deleted.

In late December, two cyclists with heavy bruising on their faces said they had been punched by a random, angry motorist driving behind them on Turtle Creek Boulevard. Despite the serious accusations, the Dallas police who came to the scene that night didn't appear to try too hard to get to the bottom of what happened. Instead, they gave both the driver and one of the cyclists each a ticket for a class C misdemeanor assault, a low-level charge handled in municipal court. Then they let the driver go without a sobriety test.

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Toyota's Move to Texas Had Nothing at All to Do With Those Massive Corporate Tax Incentives

On Tuesday, Toyota will break ground on its new North American headquarters in Plano. Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz is celebrating the launch of the project by pretending that Texas' outsize corporate incentives had no influence on the company's relocation.

In an interview at the North American International Auto Show with Dallas Morning News auto writer Terry Box, Lentz lists exactly two reasons for Toyota's move: to consolidate its far-flung operations, currently spread between California, Kentucky and New York, and to lure young workers. Box writes, "He also figured, though, that the layout of Toyota's U.S. offices just wasn't conducive to the sort of collaborative environment that young workers want."

Both points are probably true to a degree, but it seems worth somebody (oh, we dunno, a newspaper reporter) mentioning a few other points that might have tipped the scales for Toyota. For example:

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DART's New Winter Weather Contingencies Are Only a Couple of Years Late

Categories: Transportation

Dallas Area Rapid Transit
Icy DART power lines in December 2013
One thing has proved true during each of Dallas' last two significant winter storms, DART service -- DART rail service specifically -- will fail. The week that Jerryworld hosted the Super Bowl in 2011, DART light rail suffered its first full shut down. Almost three years later, DART experienced another stoppage during December 2013's Icepocalypse. In both cases, DART tried to keep service running by clearing overhead electric lines of ice with out-of-service trains.

Tuesday, the transit agency announced two scenarios it will use the next time inclement winter weather strikes North Texas.

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Biggest North Texas Speed Trap Cities of 2014

Flickr user Tripp
Everyone in Dallas drives around with a mental map showing the contours of local traffic enforcement. It shows the places where cops with itchy ticket-fingers treat minor driving infractions as tantamount to high treason and, conversely, those spots where they are too busy catching murderers or snacking on doughnuts (depending on the jurisdiction) to bother much with traffic laws. But these maps, sketched as they are from a mix of personal experience and anecdotes from friends of friends, are necessarily crude and are useless once a driver exits their typical sphere of travel. In a word, what's missing from those maps is data.

That's where the following charts come in. For the second consecutive year, Unfair Park has crunched data compiled by Texas' Office of Court Administration to determine how many traffic tickets were prosecuted in ever municipality in Dallas, Collin, Denton, and Tarrant counties. (The data actually spans December 2013 to November 2014 since that's what was available from the OCA.)

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Low Gas Prices Are Here to Stay, Says GasBuddy's 2015 Forecast

Categories: Transportation

The substance these pumps used to dispense is going to stay cheap all year, apparently.
Sustained high oil production in the Permian Basin, the Bakken region of North Dakota and Western Canada, along with the seeming willingness of OPEC to ride out the resultant plummeting oil prices mean gas prices will continue to remain below recent levels, according to GasBuddy.com's 2015 Fuel Price Outlook.

In 2014, Texas saw an average fuel price of between $3.10 and $3.19 per gallon and ended the year with average prices dipping below two dollars. January projects to feature the cheapest gas prices, before Texas prices slowly climb to a predicted peak of $2.80 to $3.05 in May.

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Cyclists Say an Angry French Defense Contractor Punched Them; Cops Write Tickets

A photo of Sebastien Blain, the driver who was cited by police after two cyclists claim he punched them, from his Google Plus profile, which has since been deleted.
Three friends were riding their bikes along Turtle Creek after a night out early Saturday when, they say, a French couple in a black Volkswagen pulled up behind them and started honking. While that sounds like typical Turtle Creek driver behavior (minus the French accent), they say the motorist then became unexpectedly violent. According to the three friends, the driver first hit cyclist George Wendt (not the Cheers guy, as far as we know) with his car, knocking him off his bike and sending him to the median. With Wendt still on the ground, the male driver got out and began punching him in the eyes, the friends say.

The group didn't hear what their alleged assailant told the cops who eventually arrived, but it must have been a really convincing story, because police records indicate that the motorist was let go without an arrest or even a sobriety test.

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Seeking to Avert Another Holiday Parking Disaster, Love Field Adds 1,000 Spaces

City of Dallas
To be completely full five minutes before you get there.
If you're flying out of the newly Wright Amendment-unencumbered Love Field this week and haven't yet found a parking space, you can breathe a shallow sigh of relief. The airport will have 1,150 more spaces for Christmas than it did for Thanksgiving.

Almost half of those spaces (500) are valet spots in a newly city-leased lot close to the airport. Employee parking has been cleared out of garages A and B to create 400 parking berths and The Parking Spot, a private lot, will have 250 more spots than it did on Thanksgiving.

Additionally, while it may not be a train line running to the terminal, DART and the airport are teaming up on a free shuttle between the Green Line's Inwood Station and the airport. The "Love Link" will run from 5:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. every day.

With both local airports expecting record crowds over the holiday season, the 1,100+ spots might not be enough -- Love Field officials have announced plans to add about 4,000 parking spaces as quickly as possible -- so airport officials still advise that travelers get to the airport early and find alternative transportation, if possible.

DART Rail Not Running Downtown Tomorrow, Adding Delays for Christmas Shoppers

Categories: Transportation

Dallas Area Rapid Transit
DART says these bus routes will get you around the rail closure downtown this weekend.
After this weekend, lord willing, DART's replacement of downtown's light rail track will finally be over. The work was scheduled to be done at the end of November, but bad weather has forced the final weekend of work to be pushed to tomorrow and Sunday, leaving Christmas shoppers downtown and all points south and east in a lurch.

For DART, using the upcoming weekend as a contingency is the lesser of multiple evils. It couldn't use December 6 and 7 because of the Adolphus Children's Parade and it couldn't use December 13 and 14 because of the marathon. Letting the work slide into January means greater potential for winter storms and conflict with the first College Football Playoff championship. The phases of the replacement, DART spokesman Morgan Lyons says, each require two full days of work, so missing one day means missing the whole weekend.

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It's Over: New Dallas Transportation-for-Hire Ordinance to Take Effect April 30

Categories: Transportation

Thumbnail image for uberlyftcurbtriptych.jpg
Screenshots from Uber, Lyft and Curb (Yellow Cab's app).
Starting in the spring of 2015, cabs, limos and app-based services like Uber will operate on a reasonably level playing field.

That's the end result of months of wrangling that culminated with three and a half hours of debate before the Dallas City Council voted 13-2 to approve a transportation-for-hire ordinance that will allow the app-based services to operate in Dallas with the city's OK. Only Dwaine Caraway and Carolyn Davis voted no.

All of the services' drivers will be required to carry commercial insurance when carrying paying passengers. All drivers will have to get a city permit and pass a background check. All vehicles being driven for the services will have to pass a city inspection.

All of the groups affected by the ordinance -- except for one -- urged its passing. They may not have been happy with all of its provisions -- the driver licensing is particularly onerous for UberX and Lyft drivers that only drive part-time -- but recognized the importance of creating a way for all the players to conduct business in Dallas under a consistent standard.

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