Mayor Mike Rawlings held a press conference on May 1, during which he declared his support for the Trinity Parkway, a 10-mile, 6-lane toll road extending along the Trinity River levee. Though the project has been largely ignored in the past few years due to lack of funding, the city has now outlined a feasible funding plan and, with the Mayor’s backing, the project will most likely become a reality.
Though the supporters of the toll road emphasize Dallas’ need for traffic congestion relief in the Downtown area, the Mayor’s decision has been met with much outrage from many vocal members of the community, expressing concerns that another toll road will prolong the urban sprawl of Dallas instead of encouraging the city center to become a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly community.
The Mayor attempted to touch on their concerns in his speech; he said, “Frankly, I don’t want to be L.A. covered in concrete and with the poor air quality. And on the other hand, as much as I love Austin, I don’t want to be that type of city with the major traffic gridlock they experience everyday just because they didn’t come to terms with the problems they faced…I don’t really love roads; I don’t think many of us do. But if done right, they can be a major catalyst for growth.”
He also judged the toll road in three areas: safety, beauty and money. “Are we going to be safe, beautiful and cost efficient? After considering those three questions, I believe building the parkway inside the levees, alternative 3C, is the right thing for the future of Dallas,” he said.
The Mayor also assured his audience that the plan for the Trinity Parks is still in place, that bike and pedestrian-friendly initiatives for the city are well under way, and that the toll road will not be visible from the parks. “You will not see this road from the downtown park and anything short of that is unacceptable to me,” he said.
Funding for the road is provided by citizens of Dallas who have authorized tax revenues to support bonds for the parkway, and from sources outside the city, including users of the road and state and federal transportation dollars.
For a round-up of some varying opinions on the project, you can explore the following links (warning: most of them are pretty negative):
“Yesterday Was a Sad Day for Dallas” – The Dallas Observer
“Mayor Rawlings backs $1.4B Trinity River Corridor toll road “ – Dallas Business Journal
“Of Rawlings, the Trinity, and the DMN” – Dallas Morning News Transportation Blog
“Put Up or Shut Up, Please: Send Your Best Alternative to the Toll Road” – Call for alternate solutions to the congestion problem on Dallas Morning News, some of which have already been posted
The 220+ comments on Mayor Rawlings’ Facebook Page (scroll down to the April 26 post asking for opinions)
You can also download the Mayor’s speech on the project here. The public hearing for the project is still scheduled for May 8, 7 p.m. at the Dallas Convention Center Arena.