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Balanced Vision Plan Co-Author on Trinity River Toll Road: ‘I Want to Apologize to Dallas’

Alex Krieger

People, if you haven’t gotten your tickets yet for this week’s big urban planning event — Choices for a 21st Century Dallas: Connecting People and Opportunities — you’d best do so now. And get your popcorn ready, because Harvard professor and Balanced Vision Plan co-author Alex Krieger says he’s coming to town “with guns blazing.”

I called him today to get a quote for a column I’m wrapping up for the October issue. Krieger is already on record (the last time he was in town, at the New Cities summit) as saying he thought a plan that favors moving traffic over making a beautiful park along the Trinity was flawed. But he plans to be much more direct in his speech in Dallas on Friday.

“I want to apologize to Dallas,” Krieger said this afternoon. “I feel like I helped persuade a whole lot of people that the road in the Trinity was a good idea. And that’s the reason I want to apologize. Because, yes, a parkway that makes the Trinity more accessible is a good idea. A fricking highway is not the thing to do.”

How did we get to this point, then?

“We were all duped a bit,” Krieger says. “It’s clear now that the traffic folks nodded as we showed them the Balanced Vision Plan, but they were just waiting for us to get out of town.”

That “balanced vision” was for a very narrow plan, Krieger says, meaning a four-lane downtown parkway. “Not a superhighway toll road, which definitely should not be built inside the levee.”

“Think about the term ‘parkway,’ ” he says. “A parkway creates pleasure drives to connect open spaces and park spaces. I still think the Trinity needs a fine access road that allows people to be a part of the Trinity River environment. It allows access to parts of the river. So a road is necessary. A parkway is a good thing. But that distinction is lost on the engineering profession.”

“I’m coming in [to Dallas] with guns blazing, because I feel we were duped a bit. We were envisioning a particular kind of access road,” Krieger says. “And the engineers assumed all along that once we left, they would describe it as the Balanced Vision Plan but in fact were designing a highway.”

This weekend is shaping up to be an exciting one. I take mine with truffle butter, please.