Too Late to Find Another Architect For the Margaret McDermott Bridge?

We’re probably too far along in the process of the creation of the new Interstate 30 bridge over the Trinity River (aka Large Marge‘s little sister, the McBridge) to back out of this deal now. Especially since parts of it are already being manufactured in Tampa. So the bridge, slated to open in 2016, is pretty much a sunk cost at this point.

But the bad news about architect Santiago Calatrava keeps coming.

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Leading Off (12/23/13)

Judge Jean Boyd Sentenced Previous Teen Drunk Driver to 20 Years. Plus, More Angry Op-Eds in the New York Times. Twenty years is quite a bit different than the 10 years of probation that Ethan Couch received. In 2004, Eric Bradlee Miller, then 16, stole a truck and crashed it into a car, killing a 19-year-old man. His BAC was .11. He was sentenced to 20 years. Couch, also 16, with a BAC of .24, crashed his pickup into an accident scene, killing four people. He received 10 years probation. Of course, there are differences between the stories of Miller and Couch, mainly the felony charge for stealing the pickup. But it’s an interesting, and devastating, comparison nonetheless. Also, James McAuley, who brought us that lovely JFK op-ed in the New York Times back in November, is back with some more venom for DFW on the Couch matter, specifically the “affluenza” diagnosis.

This Is a Story About an Apology. Dallas Police Department second-in-command Charlie Cato is sorry. He messed up (and by messed up he means never investigated) a shady account about a drug bust. The officers have since been fired, two others were disciplined, and Cato was put into the role of interim assistant city manager. Yes, that makes sense. But, according to the Morning News, he’s returning to his previous post next year.

Fort Worth Battling Drillers for Royalties. And it’s not alone. Arlington, Arlington ISD, and Fort Worth investor Ed Bass are all suing as well.  They claim that drillers, including Chesapeake Energy, have been using the money to cover post-drilling costs. Fort Worth alone alleges it’s been short-changed millions.

A “New” Trolley Car Will Hit the Streets This Week. The McKinney Avenue trolley system is adding Betty, an 80-year-old car that hasn’t been used since the 1950s, to its ranks. Betty will be out for tests this week and, hopefully, fully operational by February.

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Leading Off (12/16/13)

New Tolls on LBJ Freeway Open. More than 240,000 vehicles use LBJ daily. Now they’ll be contending with a new toll structure on the 3.2-mile stretch between Preston Road and Greenville Avenue. And they’ll pay for it. Depending on the time of day and traffic level, the price to use certain lanes will rise or fall. For now, it won’t cost more than $.95 to drive that section, but down the line, there won’t be a ceiling in place. In Virginia’s Fairfax County, an area with a similar system, drivers have paid nearly $10 to drive 14 miles.

Two Men Scoop Up Land Next to I-35E, Sell It to the City For a Pretty Penny. Business partners Kevin Bollman and Wade Blackburn are in the real estate business. More specifically, they’ve been buying land in areas where Texas is looking to widen I-35E. Then when the state comes calling, they sell. For, what we can assume, is a nice profit. They’ve been open about their method, too: use public information about the expansion project and buy along the highway corridor. Over five months in 2011, Denton County doled out more than $22.million to the duo. Over four months in 2012, the state paid for another four acres along Riverfront Boulevard in Dallas County, but records don’t communicate the price. As perhaps could be expected, folks are calling foul, asking how this could be legal.

Another Woman Pulled Over By a Fake Cop. A woman driving in Denton at 2:30 a.m. Friday saw flashing lights in her rearview mirror and pulled over. While she was getting her license and registration, the fake police officer tried to assault her. So what are you supposed to do when someone pulls you over at 2:30 in the morning? One of the tips listed in the article is making sure the vehicle is properly marked as a police car. But how can you do that? End of story: This is one of my worst nightmares. If people have tips beyond the obvious stay off the road always, I’d love to hear them.

Dog Debate Brewing in Plano. Whether pups can accompany their owners on patios in Plano is up for discussion, with a vote coming as soon as Tuesday. Allowing dogs to dine (or sit while their owners dine) al fresco is common practice in Dallas and other cities across the country. But when the Katy Trail Ice House Outpost opened this summer, that part of their patio mission got rejected. Plano Mayor Harry LaRosilliere called the opinionated “very passionate” on both sides of the argument.


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Leading Off (12/9/13)

Dallas Still Battling Icepocalypse. Some 14,000 are without power this morning, Dallas ISD is closed for another day, and roads remain dicey. But there’s good news, too. The brief Sunday temperature increase enabled DART to get some trains up and running this morning. These eager runners ran a marathon anyway. And just be happy you’re not on this highway in Parker County. But please be safe out there.

The Chanel Show Must Go On. The valet parker at the Rosewood Crescent Hotel asked me yesterday if I was there for Chanel (I wasn’t), but that must mean folks are starting to appear for Tuesday’s show at Fair Park. And buzz is building in the Twitterverse, as StyleSheet reports. Let’s just hope everyone can catch a flight in. I’d hate for all of these celebs to not see Dallas in its ice-covered glory.

American Airlines and US Airways Set to Merge Today. There was one last effort to block the merger over the weekend, but the Supreme Court rejected the attempt. Now, the two airlines will become one. And not just any one. But the LARGEST AIRLINE IN THE WORLD. The first bit of changes will happen in January as frequent fliers will be able to use miles on both airlines, but other than that, things will look pretty much the same until 2015 when the FAA gives the airline a single operating certificate.

Oh, One More Thing: GO BEARS. Rogers and I still don’t have a wager, but I suspect that will be determined today. Or maybe he’ll forget about it and we can just watch the game separately and in peace. Right.

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Do Southwest Airlines’ Nice-Guy Tactics Cost It Millions of Dollars in Profit?

Ryanair is famous for its extremely cheap fares accompanied by exorbitant fees, like charging $115 to print your boarding pass for you. The airline even once proposed charging passengers to use the onboard toilet. By contrast, Southwest has resisted the industry trend to charge bag fees. Ryanair’s profits last year were 40% higher than Southwest’s. Says travel-planning website Flightfox:

In the league that Ryanair plays in, Southwest is simply too nice. Southwest maintains wholesome traditional values that when added together, end up costing them millions.

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Leading Off (11/25/13)

Weather Leads to 300 Flight Cancellations at DFW. Although Sunday remained pretty well devoid of any of the winter weather meteorologists have been forecasting, DFW canceled hundreds of flights, nearly a third of its daily volume, according to NBC. Weather did wreak havoc elsewhere in the state, as the bus carrying Willie Nelson’s band crashed […]

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DFW Airport Should Just Open the Damn Gates

Or when frustrated drivers start busting right through them, the airport may find itself without any gates left. From a FrontBurnervian: Tried to exit DFW about 7:30 last night. System was down — at least intermittently — and wouldn’t read my tolltag.  Not just me.  In the lane to my right, there was nearly a riot and someone just […]

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Spirit Airlines Flight from DFW Explodes, Lands Safely

A Tuesday flight from Atlanta to DFW Airport from DFW, headed to Atlanta, had an “emergency situation” that this reporter describes as an engine exploding. The flight returned to the airport and landed safely, but before that passengers were texting loved ones (and filming without turning their phones sideways). Part of one message read, “…I love […]

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Abbott Does a 180 on American-US Airways Merger

Today’s stunning news that Greg Abbott has yanked Texas out of the feds’ case against the proposed American Airlines-US Airways merger suggests how much the AG’s actions are being driven by political considerations. Sure, the GOP gubernatorial candidate spun a pretty picture at today’s news conference, with high-minded strategic talk about seats at the table […]

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DFW Airport Planes Hitting Fewer Birds

Well, maybe. This NBC 5 story found the the number of reports of birds striking planes during takeoff or landings at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is down, but also acknowledges that an Federal Aviation Administration study found that nationwide more than half of these incidents aren’t reported. So who knows? D/FW had the second-most bird […]

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