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Making Dallas Even Better

Should DFW Airport Be Renamed For Writer David Foster Wallace?

Of course not. But some Brooklynite writer clickbaitingly makes the case for rechristening Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport:

DFW is there like a gift from the literary gods, held in place by two great American cities with downright fantastic-working initials.

Some people would say such a change is outside of the realm of possibility — we know; we ran this idea past them, and they used that exact phrase in a bit of a huff. But then, logical validity is not a guarantee of truth. The IATA usually doesn’t change airport codes, due to inertia. Switching codes confuses employees and travelers alike. Such is not the case with DFW. The real hurdle is convincing the airport’s board of directors of the merits of sharing the name with an American author. That seems, to us, quite surmountable.

John Tilton of Dallas’ own Lucky Dog Books humors the writer by pretending to the take the proposal seriously:

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Why Urban Areas Should Tear Down Elevated Highways

Over at Politico, they’ve got a piece titled “Knock ’Em Down.” The subhead: “Even Ike was disappointed by what highways did to cities. Here’s a conservative case for fewer overpasses.” If you’ve never thought about this topic before, then this must be the first time you’ve visited FrontBurner. In any case, you should read it. But I’m going to deprive you of the delight of stumbling across this passage as I did when I read it:

To a true fiscal conservative, the notion of removing urban highways to control costs, and letting scarce real estate attain its full value, should hold immense appeal. This may explain why Wick Allison, president of the non-profit that publishes The American Conservative, is a huge backer of the movement to replace a highway in downtown Dallas with a street grid and walkable development.

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Dallas’ Jason Roberts on How to Build a Better City

The New York Times this week hosted a two-day conference on the future of cities, and among the invited speakers was Dallas’ own Jason Roberts. You’ve likely heard of Roberts as the driving force behind bringing a streetcar back to Oak Cliff and the Better Block movement.

In the video above (H/T DMN) you can watch him explain how temporarily putting potted plants along sidewalks and painting your own lines on the street — in violation of municipal ordinances — can help transform a city.

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Leading Off (7/14/2015)

The Barnett Shale is Off-Gassing More Greenhouse Gasses Than Previous Thought: The EPA botched its initial estimates, and as it turns out, fracking in the Barnett Shale is responsible for 64 percent of all methane in our local atmosphere. The good news: most of those emissions are the result of human errors and mechanical failures.

Let’s Put Those Increased Violent Crime Numbers in Perspective: The Dallas Morning News breaks down the much-reported 10 percent increase in violent crime. The takeaway? Glass half-full, glass half-empty. You could argue the increase reflects a return to a historical norm. And if violent crime continues at pace through the end of the year, murders will be at the same level they were 2013 and 2012, while aggravated assaults would only see a 0.4 percent increase over last year.

When Will We Finally Run Craig Holcomb Out of Town? Read Eric Nicholson’s look into the laughable bike share program in Fair Park. I mean, it couldn’t be more stupidly designed, so it will come as no surprise that the usage numbers are equally laughable. But here’s the important bit: when Nicholson tried to get the usage numbers through an open records request, he was stonewalled by the Friends of Fair Park, which operates the program. That decision to not to release the bike share numbers was then upheld in a ruling by the Texas AG.

I mean, seriously? Bike share numbers? We’re keeping those under lock-and-key? Why? Because Friends of Fair Park – which is run by Craig Holcomb, who also heads the Trinity Commons Foundation – doesn’t want more mud on his face for a program that anyone who has any idea about anything looks at for two seconds and thinks, “Good God, that is the sorriest excuse for a bike share program I have ever seen in my entire life.” I mean, seriously? How long are we going to let Holcomb meddle in the city’s business? How long are we going to let him lord over his two little fiefdoms, which happen to involve two of Dallas’ greatest civic assets – Dallas and Fair Park – both of which have languished for decades under the weight of curiously stupid ideas? For the love of all things good, Criag Holcomb, will you please just drift off into a quiet retirement and leave Dallas alone? Please. Thank you for your service. Now go away.

New Designer Drug in Town: It’s called Flakka, and it doesn’t sound like too much fun. Effects include “murderous rage, paranoia, ultra-violence, and running around screaming.” Or basically what it feels like to read about Craig Holcomb’s meddling in Dallas affairs.

It’s Finally Texas Hot: After cool temps and so much rain, we can’t really complain about DFW finally flirting with 100 degrees (heat index popped up to 109 in some places yesterday). Well, unless the AC goes out in your entire apartment complex. Then you can complain.

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Troy Aikman Hates Potholes. So Does, It Turns Out, Every Other American

Over the weekend, Dallas Cowboys legend (and former auto dealership owner) Troy Aikman was driving in Dallas. Presumably his car hit a pothole. Or maybe he spotted a pothole ahead of him in the road and swerved to avoid it. Maybe he hit a few potholes in a row, or maybe his entire trip felt like he was dodging potholes like Giants linebackers. Whatever the case, Dallas Cowboys legend Tory Aikman was fed up with the damned potholes, and so he got mad. So mad, in fact, he did what all Americans do these days when we’re mad. We Tweet:

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Let’s Take the NCTCOG’s Mobility 2040 Transportation Survey!

The North Central Texas Council of Governments has launched a survey to help gather information from the public and inform the completion of their Mobility 2040 transportation plan. Always willing to throw in my two cents about things like like transportation master plans, I clicked through the link in the email I received eager to click some boxes and hit submit. The survey is simple enough, just 6 little questions. Only when I went to answer them I noticed that the answers I wanted to submit weren’t options. Bah. Oh well. I figured I’d just post my survey on FrontBurner instead so that I can add-in the answers I want to send to the COG. Here we go:

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Leading Off (6/19/15)

Lake Grapevine Flooding May Force Evacuations. Leaders in Grapevine, Flower Mound, and Coppell have warned some residents they may need to leave their homes as the overflowing lake is expected to crest at more than 563 feet tonight. Part of FM 2499 was shut down yesterday as water had spilled over into Denton Creek, which rose to cover portions of the road near Grapevine Mills Mall.

TCU Advances in College World Series. The Horned Frogs topped LSU for the second time, by a score of 8-4, on Thursday. But they’ll have to beat defending champ Vanderbilt — a team they lost to earlier in the double-elimination tournament — twice to advance to the best-of-3 finals. They play tonight at 7 p.m. in Omaha.

Lake Dallas Ousts Muckraking Councilwoman. Some shady goings-on in the small town north of Lewisville Lake this week. Julie Matthews had won election to the Lake Dallas City Council with 69 percent of the vote and only took her seat on June 11. Previously she’d operated a Facebook page on which she’d posted documents about Mayor Anthony Marino’s firing from Lewisville ISD for having been involved in the harassment of a gay student, images of him using city dumpsters to get rid of his own commercial waste, and a video of him drunkenly wielding a weapon at a banquet. Matthews had also complained that Nick Ristagno is in violation of state law by serving as both the city manager and police chief. So, based on what sounds like transparently thin charges, Marino and the three other members of the council voted to remove Matthews from her position.

Tennell Atkins Guilty of Assault. The soon-to-be former Dallas city councilman must pay a $166 fine for what he did to a city employee who wouldn’t let him into City Hall through a secured door last December.

Former UNT-Dallas President Owes Child Support. John Ellis Price quit as the head of the school in summer 2013 after reports of inappropriate relationships with employees. But he had still been teaching accounting classes at the school — at a salary of $191,000 a year — since then. On Thursday he resigned from that post as well, following news of a lawsuit against him by a 33-year-old former UNT student. Price is 63 and the father of a son the woman gave birth to in 2008.

Don’t Go to Oklahoma City. Maybe good advice at any time <rimshot>, but especially today as a 4-mile stretch of northbound Interstate 35 between Ardmore and Davis in Oklahoma has been shut down while officials try to figure out what to do about boulders that collapsed off a hillside onto the highway following the heavy rains of Tropical Storm Bill.

Rangers Lose on Balk-Off. Is the balk the lamest rule in sports? Discuss.

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Leading Off (6/5/15)

McKinney School Forbids Message of Tolerance. About 15 students at Faubion Middle School on Wednesday wore shirts sporting the phrase “Gay O.K” — in support of a seventh-grader who was being bullied — and were asked to change clothes. The district spokesman said administrators’ concerns had nothing to do with the specific content of the students’ message, but instead were regarding the potential for disruptions.

Flood Damages Cost Millions. Sewage has spilled into Lake Carolyn in Irving, and it can’t be cleaned up until the water recedes. Restoring Dallas parks and golf courses will likely cost more than $2.6 million, and the city has no insurance to cover it. On the other hand, marinas and other businesses on Lake Bridgeport are happy that water levels there have risen 27 feet in the last month.

Police Union Criticizes Department For Disciplining Officers. Fort Worth Police had reassigned one officer and placed another on leave as a result of their actions at the end of last week’s slow-speed chase. Their lawyer called these measures a “knee-jerk reaction.”

State Highway 360 Buckles. The southbound ramp to the road coming from the south exit of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has raised 8 to 10 inches above the surrounding pavement in one section, creating a speed bump that sent cars airborne as they drove over it. It’s been closed until repairs can be made Friday.

Mark Cuban as the President of the United States: (see below.)

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Why Dallas Can’t Follow Wisconsin’s Lead and Sue to Stop the Trinity Toll Road

A remarkable ruling came down from the Eastern District Court of Wisconsin last week. A federal judge ruled in favor of an anti-highway advocacy group that sued the United States Department of Transportation to stop the expansion of a 19-mile segment of Wisconsin State Highway 23 from a two-lane to a four-lane roadway. In his decision, Judge Lynn Adelman agreed with the advocacy group, called 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, that the motivation for expanding the road was based on flawed traffic projections.

City Lab goes over the entire controversy and ruling in depth, but anyone following the debate over the Trinity Toll Road will be familiar with many of the issues at stake. Local officials in Wisconsin have pushed to expand a rural road for years, since way back in 1999, arguing that expansion was necessary because traffic projection models showed increased usage and eventual congestion along the road. Citizens doubted those traffic projection models, and fought the expansion because they believed tax dollars were better spent on more pressing needs. Citizens sued, and they won.

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Waitin’ Around For the Trinity Toll Road to Die

Over the next month or so, the City of Dallas will host numerous public meetings to present the Dream Team’s vision for the Trinity River Toll Road and receive community feedback about those plans.

I attended the second meeting, which was held in an area of Dallas about as far from the river as you can get and still technically be in the city of Dallas. Parkhill Junior High School is in the middle of a neighborhood of low slung 1970s ranch houses not too far from the Prestonwood Country Club and the city of Addison. It’s a staggeringly bucolic setting. Walking from the car to the school, the air was still and quiet — nearly silent — and the only sound was the chirping of birds and the muffled chattering of a few students far off by the sports fields.

Despite the distance between this part of Dallas and the center of the city, more than 60 people showed up to the meeting and many brought with them strong opinions about what should — or should not — happen in the floodway.

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Michael Morris Knows Which Way the Wind Is Blowing

In case you missed yesterday’s Dallas Morning News story:

North Central Texas Council of Governments transportation director Michael Morris told the Young Constructors Council of the TECO construction association last week that instead of an ever-extending transit network, the solution is dense infill developments where highway capacity and rail service already exist.

“The more development you can get to locate to areas that already have adequate transportation, the less you have to then build in the green-field areas,” Morris said in a subsequent interview.

And:

Frisco has $5 billion worth of mixed-use, high-density development planned along the Dallas North Tollway. But the city, like most of Collin County’s fastest growers, isn’t a member of one of the region’s three primary transit agencies.

But with political and financial barriers to fully joining Dallas Area Rapid Transit, it doesn’t appear that rail service is in those cities’ immediate future. That worries Morris, the regional transportation director, especially because Collin County is expected to double in population within a few decades.

The migration is expected to put the population center of the region along Dallas County’s borders with Denton and Collin counties.

“How are you going to move all those people without the benefits of rail transit?” he said.

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We Can’t Let Our Guard Down When it Comes to the Trinity Toll Road

Goodness, a bunch of dust has been kicked-up by a little bit of flooding. The past week’s rains have come just at the right time to spark a whole lot of silly talk about flooding and toll roads and Trinity River Project plans. Opponents of the road are circulating memes that use the floods as an excuse to dance on the road’s supposed watery grave — look, the floodway floods! Over at the Dallas Morning News, a couple of editorial writers try to throw water on the fires of panic and hyperbole. A couple of days ago, Rodger Jones made the somewhat obvious point that yes, we can build a road in a flood plain and make sure it doesn’t flood. Today, Rudy Bush chimes in, reiterating his support of the Beasley Plan and attempting to calm everyone down by saying that a road that occasionally floods isn’t the end of the world, let alone the end of plans for a road in the Trinity River watershed.

However, as I wrote earlier this week, I don’t think anyone believes that we can’t build a road that doesn’t flood. Surely the world has seen greater engineering marvels. The question is whether or not this particular road plan is a stupid idea.

Let’s leave that conversation for another day. Here’s the point I want to make: I’m a bit concerned by both Jones and Bush’s eagerness to call Alternative 3C – the engineering plans for a massive highway with high-five style exit ramps flying every which way – over and done.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Can I Park For Free in Downtown Dallas?

Question: What’s the rule on parking your car on a public street downtown that has no such sign declaring it a no-parking zone or a commercial loading zone? I found a tiny block sandwiched between a pair of parking garages that has room for three cars along a curb and no such sign. I’m one of those stubborn downtown workers who refuses to shell out a monthly fee to have my own parking space, so finding areas like this is like finding a treasure. I’ve been parking there all week, and today a security guard for one of the two garages came out and told me I couldn’t park there. I asked him to show me a sign forbidding it, and he said, “You just can’t park here, man.” He then threatened to call DPD, which I welcomed before I realized I had no time to deal with it. So who’s right here? He mentioned that it would be difficult for large trucks to enter a loading bay on the opposite side of the curb, an argument I would certainly cede to if the city were to place a sign forbidding me from leaving my car on this public street. — Matt G.

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