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.
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…)