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Is NCTCOG Staff Dictating Regional Transportation Policy?


Question: What is Michael Morris, the transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, trying to do in this Dallas Morning News piece on I-345 that ran over the weekend? (I know, I know. Tired of this topic yet?)

Morris states that the NCTCOG and TxDOT will not support the proposal to replace I-345 with a boulevard:

“There’s not much our office is going to be able to do to help them and there’s not much TxDOT’s office will be able to do.”

Then he fires off this one:

“I have found no one above my pay grade that supports the elimination of the main lanes of 345.”

Never mind that elsewhere in the piece we read about the study TxDOT is working on which will include estimated expenses and logistics for replacing I-345 with a boulevard, nor that numerous public officials have expressed at least an openness to considering a teardown as part of the future of I-345. What’s troubling here is that Morris is repeatedly making policy statements on behalf of the NCTCOG, an organization ostensibly governed by the Regional Transportation Council, which is governed by representatives from the numerous municipalities which make up the region. Sure, that’s a lot of byzantine governmental overlapping which opens the door to bureaucratic machinations. But Morris’ repeated attempts to steer policy on the I-345 debate are the mark of a rogue official pushing his own agenda. He’s been made to apologize before. How many times does this guy need to be put in his place?

  • Bushwood Smithie

    I have a lot more faith and confidence in an engineer like Morris than the pandering, room-temperature-IQ vote-whores on the Dallas City Council.

  • DanFromDallas

    Can we please call this something other than a “teardown?” Any such proposal would also involve the removal and restructuring of the I-45 bridge to South Lamar, long-overdue restructuring of I-30 to handle increased traffic, modifications to re-route large through trucks to 635, and on and on and on. “Teardown” is a simplistic and very misleading term. As this is Dallas, I also cannot help but believe that this entire proposal is nothing but a land grab, where the privileged few will reap huge monetary rewards while residents next to this new wonder-boulevard will be suffocating from ground-level fumes and constant traffic snarls. There is way too much Kool-Aid being consumed over I-345. Such echo-chamber thought processes have given us a wonderful plan for a toll road to nowhere in a flood plain.

  • Patrick Kennedy

    In the absence of a consistent, coherent vision for the city of Dallas, something else will fill the void.

  • DelkusSleeves

    “I have found no one above my pay grade that supports the elimination of the main lanes of 345.”

    I was pretty sure that Wick, Tim and Peter all made more than Michael, screw me, get these guys pay raises

  • Wylie H Dallas

    The problem with the set up is that because Michael Morris reports to a board with so many members, almost all of whom are elected officials who rotate in and out of office, he effectively reports to no one. Moreover, to the extent he needs to twist the arms of individual board members, he can easily pick them off by threatening to screw with their own infrastructure by withholding funds for infrastructure projects, designing them in an offensive manner, etc. This is why he has been in his position for so many decades, there is virtually no way to remove him, no matter how offensive or incompetent his performance.

    He went rogue years ago….

  • Wylie H Dallas

    I love the p.r. firm working against the I-345 study. They cleverly devised a cynical plan to portray the folks who support a study of I-345 as being the same folks who are for the Trinity Toll Road…. even though it is completely false.

    Nice work, DanFromDallas!

  • DanFrom Dallas

    D-Mag has been on the wrong side of history for years and years and years. Why would I trust anything that comes out of this publication now? Again. let’s call it what it is, not what we want it to be. It is a major and vastly expensive restructuing of the 75 / 30 / 45 interchange, not a simple “teardown.” Ths insistence of calling it something simplistic by people that know better is what has my BS detector going on overdrive. And I am actually all for a restructuring and re-connection of neighborhoods separated by these highways, but the “D” in Big-D stands for Duplicity whenever downtown real estate is involved.

  • Los_Politico

    Yo Dan,

    Who are the current residents? And what”ground-level fumes”? The 18-wheelers will not use the blvd unless they are making deliveries. Anyone would rather live on a blvd than an expressway.

  • TheSlowPath

    Small error in the last graf, I think.

    The RTC is a subset of the NCTCOG, not the other way around.

  • Michael Moore

    No, he had it right the first time…..

  • Robert Moses

    Truer words were never spoken. Wylie H hits the bullseye yet again.

  • CW Timothy

    “The “D” in Big-D stands for Duplicity whenever downtown real estate is involved.”

    Spot on, Dan. Our local economy, the media, 1500 Marilla and Dallas politicos are too dependent on the real estate and related industries. Show me a scandal and I’ll show you the real estate connection. Keep the dirt flying!

  • Wylie H Dallas

    Michael Morris, campaigning for the most arrogant man in North Texas award.

  • Los_Politico

    No Dan there is no housing currently existing that would be on the blvd. The proposal/s create new housing that would front the blvd. That housing will be carved out of the existing 345 land. The existing residents will all enjoy cleaner air than today.

    The blvd– any blvd– will have better air quality than an elevated highway. And by this I mean the air at the ground level is cleaner with a 4-6 lane blvd on the surface than compared to the existing highway.

  • Patrick Kennedy

    lot of people with different, generic screen names seem to be parroting the same “land grab” line. Not really a land grab when there would be an auction to find highest price and thus highest and best land use. The proceeds of which could then go to other improvements such as I-30.

    As for the nonsense about pollution, if there are less cars on the road, people’s commutes get shorter, and less vehicle miles are traveled, while truck traffic shifts around the city, that would make air quality better. The CDC seems to agree:

    It’s when 200,000 cars are stuck on a single corridor when pollution is problematic, not the 15,000 on a surface street. Concentration of traffic = bad. Dilution of vehicles via the filtering effect of the grid = good.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    I’m actually more concerned about the 266,000 jobs that have fled Dallas County in the last ten years… seduced by billions of dollars poured into an over-sized, poorly desgined regional highway network at the expense of local mobility that serves residents and their neighborhoods.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    So… DanFrom Dallas a.k.a. Greg Brown, why don’t you try tweaking this cut-and-paste red herring strategy? Maybe switch things up a bit? I think the Lakewood Soccer Mom persona is still leftover from the “Trash for Treasure” scandal at the city dump. That one seemed pretty authentic and persuasive.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    What about alternate planners, who are better-versed in current best-practice urban planning and transportation?

  • Wylie H Dallas

    The beauty of an urban street grid is that drivers can take a variety of routes, so you’re not going to have 200,000 vehicles concentrated on a single road. Plus, many of the drivers will take routes far away from the neighborhood, since there would no longer be a freeway tearing through it’s heart— just as the 100,000 cars per day that would go tearing through the middle of Highland Park along Mockingbird choose another route simply because there is no freeway running through it.