Let's just say that this rendering of the Trinity Tollway is never, ever going to happen. It's going to be bigger, uglier, and it's going to need more elevated feeders. One of those, the Jefferson Memorial , might completely cut off West Dallas from North Oak Cliff.

Could we actually end up with a Trinity parkway that doesn’t completely obliterate the park that Dallas so desperately wants?

Perhaps we could actually end up with the winding, picturesque, four-lane parkway that was in the original Balanced Vision Plan for the Trinity River? At least, that is what could happen if Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas City Council actually listen to the groundswell of opposition against the proposed Trinity Tollroad alignment that would make the road a mammoth elevated highway reliever.

But even Rawling’s own Trinity “Dream Team” is against that idea. Passionately so, it seems, as Larry Beasley pretty much destroyed the existing plans for the NTTA-managed tollway plans at the Trinity Commons Foundation luncheon.

And now the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects is giving Beasley a proverbial “AMEN!” from the pews. Jump for the full statement.

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Dusk Skyline

Past, meet future.

It’s just incredible how often we think and talk about the destiny of our city and how it is tied to the Trinity River. The discussion we’re having about this natural resource that bisects Dallas, some of them behind closed doors, isn’t a new one. In fact, we’ve been talking about the Trinity River’s influence since at least 1967, when Rob Perryman, an Austin writer and photographer, took 8,000 photos of our downtown and turned them into a narrated 40-minute movie called “The Walls Are Rising.” It was a commision of the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, whose goal was to spur development through awareness.

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Let's just say that this rendering of the Trinity Tollway is never, ever going to happen. It's going to be bigger, uglier, and it's going to need more elevated feeders. One of those, the Jefferson Memorial , might completely cut off West Dallas from North Oak Cliff.

Let’s just say that this rendering of the Trinity Tollway is never, ever going to happen. It’s going to be bigger, uglier, and it’s going to need more elevated feeders. One of those, the Jefferson Memorial Bridge, might completely cut off West Dallas from North Oak Cliff.

So. Some of our fearless city leaders want to build a toll road along the Trinity River bed that splits Dallas into north and south. One of my goals this year is to gauge where the real estate community stands on this issue. On Thursday, State Sen. Royce West invited a handful of prominent city leaders to the Urban League of Dallas on Lancaster Road  for a closed-door briefing. He let no press in, not even the Dallas Morning News, saying the meeting was closed to the public because it was meant to be a briefing for his own info, so he could respond to his constituents.

Transparency, right?

Who was there? Presenters were West, North Central Texas Council of Governments Transportation Director Michael Morris, City of Dallas Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan, City of Dallas Transportation Program Manager Keith Manoy, Texas Department of Transportation Dallas District Deputy Engineer Kelly Selman, and NTTA Executive Director of Infrastructure Elizabeth Mow. Also Bob Meckfessel, former president of the Dallas AIA, a guy who cares deeply about Dallas architecture. Meckfessel was once for the toll road, now he says he is against.

Those invited: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, former Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm, six Dallas City Council members (including Scott Griggs, Philip Kingston, Vonciel Jones Hill and Dwaine Caraway), Dallas County Commissioners John Wiley Price and Elba Garcia, Farmers Branch council member Ana Reyes, West Dallas developer Monte Anderson, urban planner Patrick Kennedy, folks from the North Texas Tollway Authority and the Texas Department of Transportation, real estate investor Philip Wise and State Rep. Raphael Anchia, who is polling constituents about this topic. About 30 to 35 people showed up I’m told. Mayor Mike was not there, Griggs and Kingston were somewhere else. No John Wiley,  no Elba Garcia. Philip Wise was not there but his partner Barry Hancock was.

The proposed 9-mile road connecting Irving and northwest Dallas to South Dallas, aka the Trinity Toll Road, is becoming one of the city’s biggest controversies. Hot, hot topic, cocktail party chatter now superseding what your home is worth. And West has been a supporter of the $1.5 billion project. But he has said, in numerous media reports, he would oppose the highway if a majority of his constituents oppose it and highway capacity is added elsewhere near downtown Dallas. Which is a valid point.

After the meeting, Royce told the Dallas Morning News he had not changed his mind at all.

But then, he spent the majority of time hearing how great it was, from what I hear happened at the meeting: (more…)

Will Alex Krieger's vision of a narrow, four-lane parkway next to the Trinity River win over a massive toll road?

Will Alex Krieger’s vision of a narrow, four-lane parkway next to the Trinity River win over a massive toll road?

Last week, the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects took a couple of days to really home in on the challenges that Dallas must overcome to be a sustainable and attractive city in the long term. A city that can compete with other areas that offer more holistic transportation solutions in an urban environment. Those lofty goals were all addressed at the organization’s Mobility Summit.

Long a car-centric city, the next generation of Dallas residents are upending the long-held belief that commuting is a forgone conclusion, measuring distance in hours door-to-door. Instead, more and more thinkers are looking critically at Dallas and our eight-lane highways, our toll roads, and our elevated high-speed thoroughfares.

As usual, Robert Wilonsky (who, I swear writes 99 percent of the copy on the Dallasnews.com site) did a fabulous job breaking down the big issues and discussions at the event, and the breakthroughs brought on by gathering so many people passionate about Dallas’ design future. The most impact was felt by Harvard professor and urban planner Alex Krieger, a co-author of Dallas’ Balanced Vision Plan, when he backed off his support of a road within the levees of the Trinity River.

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Trinity Tollway Rendering NTTA

Drawing: NTTA

So, who is still carrying banners for the Trinity Tollway? Looks like the numbers are getting pretty thin, and now Dallas’ most influential architecture organization, the American Institute of Architects — Dallas has pulled their support for the road planned between the levees of the Trinity River.

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