City News Roundup

Trinity toll road hit the roller coaster in this week's Dallas city news

Trinity toll road hit the roller coaster in this week's city news

Beasley Trinity toll road
Dream Team version of Trinity toll road has lots of green. Photo courtesy Trinity Common Foundation

If you're trying to keep up with the saga of the Trinity toll road, then this week you were at it 24-7. There were luncheons and editorials, endorsements and resolutions, climaxing in an off-the-rails urgent meeting convened by Mayor Mike Rawlings.

Here's our effort to sum up the highlights.

1. Dream Team presentation. The Dream Team was hired to advise on whether Alternative 3C, the six-lane roadway approved by the Federal Highway Administration, was the best to build. On April 14, Dream Team leader Larry Beasley presented the results at the 14th annual Trinity Commons luncheon at the Fairmont Hotel.

The team suggests four lanes, not six, with a road that "meanders" instead of going straight, because meandering lowers the MPH. It has rest stops and overlooks, landscaping and pedestrian crossings. Beasley, who's from Canada, called it a "gracious and harmonious all-American parkway" — the right words at a luncheon that opened with a surreal rendition of "God Bless America" sung by former restaurateur Hector Garcia.

Beasley had good public speaking skills for a planner; his white hair and whiter teeth glowed all the way to the back of the room. He uttered the word "dream" at least 30 times. He described their plan as "highly conceptual." Translation: They didn't bother to work through the grunt-work details of execution.

The team met in February. That means it took two months for them to xerox the schematics and make photocopies?

Beasley called it a "creative jam session" that took four days of work; his PowerPoint included black-and-white photos of said jam session that looked like Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project. He did not say how much they got paid, but if it was practicable results they were supposed to deliver, then somebody got stiffed.

2. Brandon Formby did a massive history of the Trinity Parkway leading up to the opposition to the toll road that began in 2014. "The [Dream Team] version was developed in a process championed by Rawlings, one conducted outside of public view even though it involved city and other public agency employees," the story reads.

3. Nonetheless, the AIA endorsed the Dream Team's plan, as did the DMN's editorial board.

4. The whole thing climaxed with a special city council meeting on the Dream Team proposal called by Rawlings. It ran more than four hours long and featured unmasked disrespect from city staffers, pow-wows with the city attorney and some Olympic-quality meeting know-how from council member Philip Kingston.

Like the Dream Team proposal itself, it lacked input from the public.

It ended with the city council voting 10-4 to stand by the unpopular Alternative 3C but agreeing to form a committee to examine the Dream Team plan. Unfortunately that committee will be led by toll road advocate Vonciel Jones Hill.

For full blow-by-blow recaps, consult the tweets of the DMN's Formby and Elizabeth Findell. Meanwhile, here are some memorable phrases that occurred during the meeting:

"We have just met this beautiful, in my case, lady, and I'm not ready to get married today." — Mike Rawlings

"Mr. Kingston is trying to put our balls in a vise over that." — Lee Kleinman

"Let's not play stump the dummy, okay?" — Rawlings

"I want to move people from one place to another." — Vonciel Jones Hill

"It's time to take a chill pill." — Rawlings

"It's like putting the fox in charge of the hen house." — former council member Angela Hunt