Leading Off (7/11/14)

How Soon Until Every Dallas Highway Is Tolled? Tomorrow new express lanes will open on Interstate 35E, allowing drivers to pay to bypass the usually congested interchange from I-35E to Interstate 635. Meanwhile some Collin County leaders are pushing back against a Texas Department of Transportation proposal to make the HOV lane on U.S. Highway 75 a managed toll lane. Their counterproposal is to get rid of the HOV lane entirely, opening it up for all traffic.

ACE Cash Express to Pay $10 Million For Illegal Tactics. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that the payday lender used false threats, intimidation, and harassing calls to bully borrowers. ACE also took on new loans to pay off old loans, purposefully driving customers even further into debt. The company’s training manual even had a graphic depicting how to keep the vicious cycle going.

Abducted Boy Reunited With Father.  At age 2, Drew Drees was taken by his mother, who didn’t have custodial rights after she and his father had divorced, to India. Eight years later, she returned with Drew and was promptly arrested at DFW Airport after arriving yesterday.

It’s July 11. Free slurpees, everybody.

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Tesla Maybe, Who Knows, Possibly Sort Of Considering Southern Dallas Factory

The idea is certainly eye-catching and extremely heavily qualified: Tesla might be looking at land in southern Dallas for a new $5 billion battery factory. Would that be huge? Indeed, it would. Tons of jobs, and likely a ton of ancillary development would come along with it, too, because workers need places to eat and live and so on. Good times. Yes, sir. But, OK, hold on, where did this information come from?

Michael Morris, director of transportation for the Regional Transportation Council, said an unidentified site in southern Dallas “may be placed under consideration” for the factory and that additional transportation improvements are needed in the area.

Call me “justifiably skeptical.”

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TxDOT Now Says It Could Cost $242 Million To Repair I-345

TxDOT has long been using $100 million as the cost of repairing I-345, all while consistently nudging the amount it would take to tear it down further north, to where it is now — around $1.9 billion. How long have they been using $100 million? Since 2005. According to spokesperson Michelle Raglon, that number comes from a study that only analyzed “a handful of segments of 345.” Why is that a big deal? There are 165 segments. That is a lot more than a handful, and those are eight-year-old cost estimates.

In other words: it’s not just hogwash. It’s practically ancient hogwash.

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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.

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Dallas May Be Adding Another Elevated Highway

As the state tries to find a way to make the proposed Trinity Toll Road work with Dallas’ present-day infrastructure, it may inadvertently pit two Dallas neighborhoods against each other.

The question is what to do about the Jefferson Viaduct. If the toll road is built, the current viaduct—which carries traffic to and from Oak Cliff and downtown—would be too short, and need to be torn down. So there are two options on the table:

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Amazing News About I-345 and the Trinity Toll Road

Rudy Bush over at the Morning News reports that there are bits of brain and skull all over the walls of the conference room in the editorial department because his colleague Rodger Jones’ head just exploded. Admittedly, I am reading between the lines. What Bush is reporting is that the editorial board just met with the chairman of HKS and the former CEO of Trammell Crow, Ralph Hawkins and Don Williams, respectively. Both men say they do not support the Trinity toll road. Then they showed the DMN board their plans for tearing down I-345. Read this.

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Leading Off (6/9/14)

DISD Recruit’s Mother Pointing Fingers at the District Post Death. Tammy Simpson knew it was illegal when DISD recruited her son, then living at the Dallas County Youth Village, to play basketball at Wilmer-Hutchins High School. But she thought the move would be the best thing for him. She says DISD forged residency papers, and her son, Troy Causey, hit the court. He died March 24 as a result of injuries sustained in a fight. Fifteen DISD employees, including coaches, administrators, and staff were fired Friday.

STARR Results Terrible Despite Success Initiative. In 2009, the Student Success Initiative was expanded to cover all third through eighth grade students who were identified as at risk of failing the state exams. Three years later, the Dallas Morning News is reporting that results show little improvement with widening gaps for some of the state’s lowest-performing students overall.

A New Orleans-Style Funeral For a Not-Officially-Dead-Yet Tollway. Some 50 residents and business owners in Bishop Arts gathered Friday to bid adieu to the Trinity Tollway project. They, as many have before, pointed out funding obstacles, environmental harm, and the overall impracticality of the project.

Ted Cruz Still a GOP Rockstar. He was quite the hit at the Texas Republican Convention over the weekend in Fort Worth.

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There’s a Funeral This Weekend for the Trinity Toll Road

ICYMI, the ghost of the Trinity toll road brought us some more entertainment yesterday. It started with an op-ed by the architect Larry Good, who, after a decade, has withdrawn his support of the dead project. Rudy Bush was pretty impressed with Good’s piece and piled on: “A few days ago, Wick Allison and I traded some tweets. I warned against declaring the toll road dead. Powerful people want this road. He agreed and said we need to drive a stake through its heart. Okay, here’s the stake.” That drove Rodger Jones nuts, so he apologized for Bush’s blog post. Maybe Jones and Bush really like each other. Maybe they eat lunch together in the cafeteria at the Morning News. But I prefer to think their relationship is hostile, that when they happen to ride the elevator together, they do it in silence.

If the two guys are friend, though, here’s something they can do together this weekend. On Sunday, an old-school New Orleans jazz funeral procession will leave Oddfellows at 5 p.m. From the Facebook invite:

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Richard Patterson’s Jaguar Is Dead

If you’ve been around this blog or our magazine for any length of time, then you’re familiar with the name Richard Patterson. He’s a British painter of some renown. Every so often, we trick him into writing something for us. Perhaps you recall what he had to say about the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. More recently, last summer, he wrote a piece for the magazine about a religious experience he had at a Fort Worth Jaguar dealership. Correction: he didn’t write that story for the magazine; he just sent along an email, to keep us apprised of what was going on in his life, and then we decided the email needed to be published. Richard is something of a Jaguar nut. He drives a 1994 XJS. Or, rather, he drove a 1994 XJS. Last week, someone plowed into his car, totaling it. I thought you might enjoy the obituary he wrote for his dearly departed car:

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Leading Off (6/2/14)

Trinity Tollway Loses Another Supporter. This time it’s Larry Good.

Design District Up for Sale. Well a portion of it. Lionstone Group scooped up some 30 acres in 2007. Now, they’re putting their remaining properties on the market, the majority of which fall on Oak Lawn Avenue and Hi Line Drive.

Woman Arrested for Allegedly Shooting Dog. I mean, really? A bus of school children came across the bloodied dog and her 10 pups on the side of the road. What a disaster.

Jesus Christ Superstar Canceled. You mean to tell me that Johnny Rotten couldn’t sell tickets? Please.

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Poll: Is the Trinity Parkway Dead?

Tim Rogers spelled out the matter in our May print product. The toll road that promised to bring with it transportation dollars that proponents said were the linchpin to making the entire Trinity River Corridor Project a reality won’t be built.

The plan is bad. The federal highway people aren’t crazy about the location. And, most significantly, we don’t have the money to build it. Yet a few local officials have continued to insist it’s a necessity.

So what do you think?

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