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Michael Morris: Flood Protection Is ‘Most Critical Benefit’ Of Trinity Toll Road

Michael Morris, the transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, is the latest to write an opinion piece about the Trinity toll road for the Morning News. He has previously written or said most of what the piece contains. It mostly notable because he is hitting the “OH MY GOD WHAT ABOUT FLOODS??!1?” part much harder than before.

First paragraph: “Three items about the Trinity Parkway project are critical to remember. First, it is part of the Balanced Vision Plan that has five parts — not four. Second, we are planning for the next 25-plus years, and the region has added, and will continue to add, 1 million people per decade. And third, the most critical benefit of the Trinity Parkway is flood protection.”

Second paragraph: “Eliminating transportation from the corridor would ignore demographic change and eliminate flood protection benefits, and therefore it would be a mistake.”

Third paragraph: “The Trinity Parkway project is a component of the Balanced Vision Plan that includes improvements for flood protection, recreation, environmental restoration, economic development and mobility. The roadway also is an important element that complements and enhances all other components.”

In other words: “Hm, now that everyone is aware of the fact that this road is completely unnecessary — and actually probably pretty harmful — as far as reducing congestion goes, maybe we need it because of flood protection? How does that sound?” Kind of like they’re making it up as they go along.

The rest of Morris’ piece is a master class in throwing out scary numbers with no sourcing and hoping those scary numbers scare you sufficiently. Anyway, while I’m here, I’d like to break down one other sentence.

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Angela Hunt Explains When She’ll Run For Dallas Mayor

Former city councilwoman, and persistent fly in the Dallas Citizens Council’s ointment, Angela Hunt stopped by the Old Monk yesterday afternoon to chat with Tim and Zac on D Magazine’s EarBurner podcast about her future political prospects, recent setbacks for proponents of the Trinity toll road, the crane accident at the Dallas Museum of Art, and which television program most resembles her own law practice.

A few corrections and clarifications for listeners:

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Greater Dallas Planning Council Is Against Trinity Toll Road

A couple of days ago, the GDPC‘s board approved a recommendation by a 10-member panel it had convened to review the road. The committee didn’t talk to anyone who was for the road or against it. No, it just looked at publicly available documents to come up with its answer. I’ll let them tell it. According to a release:

Greater Dallas Planning Council does not find that the proposed Trinity Toll Road Alternative 3C is an effective solution to enhance current and future mobility or significantly improve transportation within the target area. We also find that Toll Road Alternative 3C does not contain elements that will contribute to enabling a livable urban core and increasing social cohesion. Instead, Alternative 3C is likely to create physical and social barriers between and among communities. Therefore, the GDPC does not support construction of the proposed Trinity Toll Road Alternative 3C.

And yet another domino falls.

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Federal Study: Trinity Toll Road Will Make Commute More Difficult for Southern Dallas Commuters

It is going to be very difficult for those shilling the Trinity Toll Road to fall back on the argument they have rallied behind over the past months, namely, that the Trinity Toll Road is an act of gratuitous social justice because it better connects southern Dallas commuters to jobs in the north of the city. The Dallas Morning News reports that a federal traffic study shows that while the Trinity Toll Road will reduce some congestion in the Mixmaster, it will also increase traffic on other major highways, making it more difficult to commute from parts of southern Dallas:

Regional traffic estimates referenced in the federal approval documents show that by 2035, the $1.3 billion toll road will increase the number of motorists driving major highways and roadways to get in, through and around downtown by about 10 percent, or 206,000 drivers.

The payoff: a reduction in the collective average daily number of drivers using the Canyon and Mixmaster by about 3 percent, or 10,000 motorists.

That decrease is about one-fourth the number of drivers the toll road will add to U.S. 175 east of S.M Wright Freeway, a major artery for people from South Dallas, Southeast Dallas and Pleasant Grove.

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Ask John Neely Bryan: Is Dallas About to Ruin Victory Park?

Question: I live in Victory Park at The House. The House as well as the other residential buildings that are on Victory Ave and N. Houston were built and designed for one-way streets. Our building is 75% full. Victory Park has come a long way as far as people moving in. Now the city and the developers think we need two way streets which we are not in favor of. Adam Medrano has been to meetings with us but we have not talked to anyone higher than Kieth Mannoy with the city of Dallas. Mayor Rawlins office will not even respond to an email. Help, before the city ruins Victory Park! — Dan H.

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Why the Morning News Should Regret the Al Petrasek Trinity Toll Road Column

As Tim has noted, having printed Al Petrasek’s absurd arguments for the Trinity toll road alone should be enough to embarrass Dallas’ daily. But online commenters to the column have pointed out an equally troubling matter. Namely, Petrasek is identified only as a “former president of the Trinity Commons Foundation” who’s now retired and lives in Arkansas.

What the newspaper didn’t tell its readers is that Petrasek is retired from having worked as a vice president at HDR Engineering, a firm that has been contracted by the North Texas Tollway Authority for design work on the Trinity project and which could reasonably expect to be involved further (and benefit financially) if the project comes to fruition. Here’s HDR touting its toll road services.

In the comments, Mike Drago of the Morning News responded to this oversight:

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Leading Off (4/3/15)

Heated Debate Over Irving’s Anti-Islamic Stance. Speakers packed last night’s meeting of the Irving City Council — some decrying and some applauding the recently passed resolution in support of a bill introduced in the state legislature that would forbid judges from using foreign law in the their rulings. State Rep. Jeff Leach, a Plano Republican, has singled out a Muslim mediation panel as a reason the measure is necessary. “Our community has had to endure death threats, ethnic and religious slurs at the hands of your resolution,” said Alia Salem of the North Texas chapter of the Council for American-Islamic Relations. “Islam’s goal is to immigrate, assimilate and annihilate,” responded one woman who’d shown up to support what Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne terms “sticking up for our Constitution.”

Feds OK Trinity Toll Road. Mayor Mike Rawlings says the Federal Highway Administration has approved the placement of a 9-mile highway between the levees. It’s the first of two clearances by the national government necessary for the $1.5 billion project to move forward. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also has to sign off. Of course, there’s also the matter of determining funding, plus the chance that the outcome of the upcoming Dallas City Council election could bring these plans to a halt.

Balch Springs Family Tries to Raise the Dead. Police are investigating a tip that a child’s death on March 22 went unreported in a home that hosts the Congregacional Pueblo de Dios. The parents reportedly attempted a “rising ceremony” and then drove the child to Mexico for burial. “That scares me because all this time they’ve been claiming they’re Christians,” said neighbor Edward Guerra. “To find out that they’re doing this – I don’t know. I don’t know what to think about it.” Guess Ed never heard about what Jesus did to that Lazarus fellow.

Irving Gets Three Earthquakes in a Day. The first yesterday was a 2.7-magnitude just after 5:30 a.m., the second a 3.3 at about 5:36 p.m., and the last a 2.6 just after 10 p.m.

Texas Rangers Introduce New Ways to Clog Your Arteries. It’s likely to be a long, sub-.500 season in Arlington, so fans can comfort themselves with the help of chicken-fried bacon on a stick, grilled-cheese burgers, bacon cotton candy, and “Holland Hot Tot’chos.”

It’s Good Friday. And a good day for D Magazine’s offices to be closed. Enjoy the holiday weekend.

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What Did We Learn From Last Week’s Fair Park Poll?

If you haven’t noticed, my post last week that asked readers how they would react to the idea of moving the State Fair of Texas out of Fair Park got a wee bit of attention. So much, in fact, that I now keep a bag packed and ready to go by my front door so I can flee the state when the angry mobs arrive in the middle of the night with pitchforks and torches ready to tar and feather me. One thing I’ve learned: admitting you’re a Yankee and then saying anything about Big Tex is the online equivalent of suicide by cop.

Regardless, the amount of feedback that post received does seem to warrant a revisit, at least to sort through the noise. So, what have we really learned?

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Fort Worth Is a Bad Urbanism Champion

We’re used to hearing about the strides being made in the revitalization of Fort Worth’s downtown and Sundance Square, and the city does deserve credit for its efforts. However, it’s not like our neighbor to the west is a shining light of urban planning. In fact, it’s doing remarkably well in a tournament of dubious distinction, Streetsblog’s annual Parking Madness tournament.

The tournament pits 16 cities against each other who “vie for the coveted Golden Crater, awarded to the most horrendous pit of parking to blight an American downtown.” And Fort Worth is performing solidly, leading its elite eight showdown against Tampa. Here’s what gives Fort Worth an edge:

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Poll: Would You Care if the State Fair of Texas Left Fair Park?

Yesterday Mitchell Glieber, the president of the State Fair of Texas, released a startling statement. Responding to a proposal put forward by Boston-based planner Antonio Di Mambro that completely rethinks the layout and use of Fair Park, the State Fair said that adopting such a plan would “effectively end the 129-year tradition of the State Fair of Texas in Dallas.”

Sound the alarms! Raise the flags! The State Fair could leave Fair Park! How did we get here?

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Dallas-Fort Worth Continues to Bulk Up Its Population

The U.S. Census Bureau today released new estimates on population growth between July 2013 and July 2014 in the nation’s metropolitan areas and counties, and the part you’re bound to hear local leaders crowing about is Dallas-Fort Worth’s place here:

  1. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas, 156,371
  2. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, 131,217
  3. New York-Newark-Jersey City, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa., 90,797
  4. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga., 88,891
  5. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif., 86,371
  6. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz., 84,980
  7. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va., 66,561
  8. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla., 66,361
  9. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., 64,406
  10. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., 57,857

That’s the metros with the 10 largest numeric increases in population. Of course, DFW has the fourth-largest population in the country, so adding a mere 131,217 people isn’t good enough to rank it in the top 20 in terms of percentage increase. (Note that only Houston appears on both lists.)

And let’s also remember that growth of the metro and growth of the city of Dallas itself are far from the same thing.

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In Case You Still Don’t Believe in Driver-less Cars, Here’s Some Video

It has been a few years since videos of driver-less cars began circulating out of Silicon Valley and people began to speculate about what they might mean for the future of cities and transportation. We’ve even kicked around the idea a touch. Still, I think it is worthwhile to prick ourselves every once in a while as a reminder that it is more than likely that by 2030 driver-less cars will be a part of normal, everyday life. That is how fast the technology is moving. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation hopes to have rules drafted by 2017 that will mandate vehicle-to-vehicle communication technologies on new autos by an unspecified deadline, and GM, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Nissan, BMW, Renault, Tesla, and Google all expect to have cars that can drive themselves (at least part of the time) at market by 2020.

If this all sounds too optimistic, check out this video of the Mercedes FO15.

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Trinity Toll Road Roundup: Why Are Dallas City Council Members Signing Up to Address the City Council?

The council campaign season is starting to really heat up, and the Trinity Toll Road is shaking out to be a central touchstone of the campaigning. Over the weekend, that potent mix set-off a series of developments. There’s a lot to catch up on, so let’s jump to it.

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Mayor Rawlings Reproaches Scott Griggs for Trinity Toll Road Tirade

The open microphone sessions of a couple of recent Dallas City Council meetings have provided some unexpected fodder for debate. The first instance came when Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan and Council Member Sandy Greyson tangled over the specifics of the engineering plans for the road that are currently under federal review. The second came when Scott Griggs responded to Yolanda Williams, Rick Callahan’s appointee to the Dallas Parks Board, who spoke to the council during the open microphone session about her love of all things Trinity Toll Road. Griggs got a little, well, impassioned, and then Philip Kingston joined in, while Callahan played defense.

It was all popcorn-ready entertainment, but don’t look for it to happen again anytime soon. The mayor released a memo rebuking the council members for speaking in violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act. According to a reading of the act by City Attorney Warren Ellis, during open microphone sessions elected officials’ responses must be limited to “statements of specific factual information” and a “recital of existing city policy.”

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If Only Dallas Could be More Like…Minneapolis

Yesterday John Neely Bryan fielded a question about transplants coming to Dallas and wanting to make this city more like the place they came from. But this comparative disconnect works both ways. Too often I’ve heard people from Dallas comparing this city to New York, or San Francisco, or some other coastal metropolis with a larger population, older history, completely different geography, or any other number of factors that makes a comparison with Dallas a little silly. Case in point: we built a suspension bridge over our drainage ditch of a river because, you know, amazing big cities have suspension bridges.

But what if we had more modest ambitions. What if we put all of our hopes and dreams into becoming the next — that’s right — Minneapolis?

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