Will Dallas Buckle Under the Weight of So Much Asphalt?

We’ve been reporting on the Trinity Toll Road proposal in Dallas, yet another downtown highway with a tremendous cost.

Dallas wants to add another downtown freeway. Jason Roberts says the city will soon have to confront the limits to car-based planning. Photo: ##http://freelancecrunch.com/top-10-worst-american-cities-for-traffic/##Freelancecrunch.com##

This Dallas highway proposal could turn out differently than previous ones. There is real opposition at the grassroots level. And even though the majority of local decision makers are supportive, a notable few have vocally joined the opposition. Still, the endless road widening campaigns and the complete lack of vision are getting to Jason Roberts at Bike Friendly Oak Cliff — and to other people he knows. Roberts says the Big D’s apparent inability face up to its unsustainable development patterns will be its downfall:

What we’re witnessing today is a generational divide where outdated philosophies are represented by a leadership that refuses to acknowledge the obvious fact that their children are all saying, “I’d rather live in Austin/Portland/NY/SF/Chicago than Dallas.” Stubbornly, the parents keep saying, “they’ll come back for the jobs,” without realizing that the jobs are starting to go where the people want to be. We’re well aware of the $1.4 billion levee toll road, and the Winfrey Point parking debacle at the Dallas Arboretum (both ironic due to their nature vs. machine conflict), but another instance also making the news is the “lack of parking” headlines in the historic (and walkable) Bishop Arts District. Every week we’re seeing one costly issue after another related to our endless pursuit of maintaining unsustainable suburban development patterns, and the solutions are always the same: take more land, and give it to cars. For some reason, the adage “When you’re in a hole, stop digging” has been completely ignored, and I’m beginning to become numb to the monthly, “I’m finally leaving Dallas!” emails that friends keep sending me.

While other major US cities are disincentivizing auto use and incentivizing mixed transportation models in order to balance their costly strain on infrastructure, we continue to do the reverse.  It’s obvious that our leadership is going to have to eventually take a stand (and a few arrows) and say, “we’re going to have to try something different,” or else they’re going to be the embarrassing “Before” picture to an eventual leader who decides to take the inevitable path that every other city around them is taking. Like George Wallace in 1963, Dallas is waiting for its Bobby Kennedy.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Washington Area Bicyclists Association tells how they determined that DC-area police don’t know much about cycling and traffic law. Walk Bike Lee shares an expert’s advice that complete streets should be adapted to their surroundings, not shaped by a cookie cutter. And Mobilizing the Region reports that New Jersey’s Camden County is getting bike-share.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

The Grassroots Campaign for a Highway Teardown in Dallas

|
Three years ago, Dallas-based planning consultant Patrick Kennedy and his friend, developer Brandon Hancock, started wondering why you couldn’t do a highway teardown in the Big D. They picked a highway: IH345, an elevated connector route between downtown and the Deep Ellum neighborhood. Then they thought, “Why not? Let’s do a study.” Between the two […]

The Dallas Trinity Parkway Plan Horrifies Even Its Earliest Champions

|
A recent report by U.S. PIRG and the Frontier Group, “Highway Boondoggles: Wasted Money and America’s Transportation Future,” examines 11 of the most wasteful, least justifiable road projects underway in America right now. Here’s the latest installment in our series profiling the various bad decisions that funnel so much money to infrastructure that does no good.  The Trinity Parkway is a […]

Dallas Highway Teardown PAC Snags Two Council Seats. Next Up: Runoff

|
A coalition of Dallas residents trying to build a more walkable, people-friendly city gained some momentum in Tuesday’s election, picking up at least two City Council seats. At stake is the potential replacement of a downtown highway segment with mixed-use development and parks. The balance of power in the council now comes down to a June runoff. There were six […]

Texas DOT Seems Open to a Downtown Dallas Highway Removal

|
Will Texas embrace a model of mobility that works well for cities, instead of tearing them up with wider highways? A new report from the Texas Department of Transportation indicates that at least in some circumstances, the answer may be “Yes.” TxDOT last week released its “CityMAP” plan for urban highways in central Dallas [PDF]. Normally, you […]

Birmingham to Widen Downtown Highway While Other Cities Tear ‘Em Down

|
Downtown freeways are unmitigated disasters for cities. They ruin the development potential of central city neighborhoods and create dead zones that divide downtown areas. That’s why Milwaukee, San Francisco, New Orleans, Niagara Falls, Oklahoma City, New Haven and Syracuse have either torn them down or are seriously considering it. But Birmingham, Alabama, is on track to […]