Trinity River Toll Road Clarity

I am for getting started on the Trinity Park that is being delayed because of the the Toll Road supporters.  We voted on it, council approved it, and we ear marked 47 million for the Park. Where is it? Another year goes by while political wrangling goes on to get a foothold with a parkway to be made into a toll road.  I think we need to preserve the wildlife and natural habitats and their ecosystems and make a park that is built to survive flooding.  So, to be very clear. I am strongly against a Toll Road and Parkway. I am for natural habitat, trails and a park.

The information below is quoted from the Sierra Club resource and I very much agree with all aspects of this and the “Rewilding the Trinity” ideas Angela Hunt advocates.

“In 1998, Dallas voters narrowly approved $246 million dollars of bond obligations for the Trinity River Project for a multipurpose project of parks, flood control, and transportation. Nevertheless, after approval, the city promptly proposed a $394 million (now almost $2B) toll road be built inside the Dallas Floodway—which would make the park undesirable as well as increase flood risks.

In 2003, responding to continuing controversy over the Trinity River Project, Mayor Laura Miller convened a privately funded independent study of the projects that came up with what is known as the Balanced Vision Plan (BVP).  Called the Trinity Parkway, the toll road was intended to 1) be a reliever route for Stemmons and the mixmaster, and 2) provide access and visibility to the park.  To most onlookers, it was still a large scale, high-speed, 6 lane toll road.  The Army Corps signed off on the non-transportation aspects of the BVP in 2015 at a cost of $571 million.

In 2007, after the cost of the toll road escalated to $1.3 billion with no park included, and Hurricane Katrina demonstrated what shortcuts and failures in appropriate levee design and protection could do, a citizen’s referendum to remove the toll road from the floodway was placed on the ballot with almost 90,000 signatures.  However, the referendum narrowly failed, in part because of a deceitful campaign led by Mayor Leppert who “promised” that the Army Corps was “signed on” to the project, and that the project was fully funded—among other things.  Almost none of the mayor’s campaign pledges turned out to be true.

After Hurricane Katrina, the Army Corps tightened levee standards, and FEMA threatened to expand the flood zone  around the levees, and with a lack of current maintenance, Dallas was forced spend a significant sum on bringing the Dallas Floodway levees up to standards.  However, the Army Corps has adopted a more “relaxed” flood protection policy which may not require the city to achieve Standard Project Flood (SPF) level protection—the desired standard for many years.

Meanwhile, NTTA has decided the toll road is too expensive, and they will not build it without other funds to cover the cost.  Also, the downtown mixmaster improvements are nearing completion despite earlier claims that the toll road had to be started first.  Nevertheless, the city has been granted the final approval from the Federal Highway Administration for the “preferred” Trinity Parkway alignment (Alternative 3c, inside the levees), but Mayor Rawlings commissioned the “Dream Team” to rethink the toll road alongside the park.

The Dream Team oversight committee presented the Dream Team’s plans for the “parkway” to the public.  Despite the fact that they consistently called the “parkway” a “client” of the park, their parkway plans were presented before any hint of a park plan existed.  While the parkway speed limit was advertised as “low speed” (45 mph), both Angela Hunt and Rafael Anchia of the oversight committee accused the parkway of being designed for high speeds along with a roadbed that could eventually support a high speed, multi-lane toll road similar to the original federally approved Alternative 3c.

Most recently, Angela Hunt and D Magazine have proposed “Rewilding the Trinity” with the proposal to begin work immediately on the Trinity River Park as outlined in the Balanced Vision Plan (BVP).   $47 million from the 1998 bond election is still earmarked and available for the park, and the Army Corps has blessed the BVP.  Another group of designers organized by D Magazine have suggested how the park could be designed to withstand the heavy flooding of the Trinity Floodway by in part retaining and enhancing the natural aspects of the floodplain while respecting and accommodating the force of the flooding in building any park infrastructure.”

Please support me in my bid to make Dallas a better place to live work and play and represent our District at City Hall.