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Vonciel Jones Hill Still Believes In the Trinity Parkway

The city councilwoman and chair of the council’s transportation committee has a piece in today’s Dallas Morning News urging citizens not to lose faith on the Trinity Parkway, even though more and more people have and everyone should.

In the first paragraph, Jones Hill says, “Dallas exists because of business, not because of lakes or rivers. Business needs a strong transportation system to be able to thrive.” In the last, she says, “Imagine what a fully realized Trinity — lakes, athletic fields, bridges, flood control, transportation improvements — can do.” Does she make an argument between those paragraphs that solves those seemingly contradictory statements? Not really. But maybe I’m just stupid. I’ll pull out a few sections for your perusal. Maybe you can help me.

“To continue to have our economy grow, we need to increase the capacity of the freeways near downtown by 250,000 trips per day.” This is stated as a fact, but I don’t know where that number comes from.

The Trinity Parkway is “a toll road inside the levees on the downtown side. Portions would be four lanes; they would transition to six lanes where the traffic count justified the expansion. A full expansion could not be considered until 2025, and then only when the traffic count justified it.” Since there is not even a tentative start date on building the parkway, where does the 2025 date come from?

“This year, the Parkway Environmental Impact Study will be finished, and the city will receive the record of decision. As a community, we will know what can be done in the Trinity floodway and maintain the required flood control protection.” So, basically, there is a chance that we will not be able to build anything at all. Hm. Sounds like a good time to tap the brakes, wait for the the result, and then –

“Now is the time to go to work and design a Trinity Parkway that increases traffic capacity so Dallas residents can get from their homes to their jobs and is at the same time compatible with the park.” Oh, so never mind. That is literally the next sentence.

She says that recent studies show that 60 percent of the people that would theoretically use the theoretical parkway live and work in Dallas and “these folks along with the voters who have twice approved the Trinity Parkway deserve our best efforts to design and construct a waterfront boulevard that carries 250,000 person trips per day.” Nice try. A tollway and a boulevard are two different things, and the chair of the transportation committee definitely knows the difference, even on a cursory level.

Look, I get where Jones Hill is coming from. Kind of. She is looking out for her constituents. Sort of. In her mind, we go ahead with every other big project, no matter how doomed or under-funded or short-sighted, and then we’re going to pull the plug on the first doomed, under-funded, short-sighted project south of downtown. No way. Yeah, I get that. But there are better fights to fight.