Shhh! $1.5 Billion Dallas Freeway Won’t Actually Reduce Gridlock

Image: Dallas Morning News
Graphic: Dallas Morning News

There’s been a heated debate in Dallas the last few years about whether to build the $1.5 billion Trinity Parkway.

While some early backers now oppose the project, key supporters like Mayor Mike Rawlings and North Central Texas Council of Governments transportation director Michael Morris have insisted that the road is absolutely necessary to prevent a complete traffic apocalypse.

But guess what? According to the project’s own environmental impact statement, the road won’t actually do anything to reduce congestion. On the Dallas Morning News transportation blog, and in a longer piece that ran in the paper, reporter Brandon Formby says that since this information came to light, supporters of the project have been tongue-tied:

Some of the Trinity Parkway’s most influential supporters have been virtually silent since The Dallas Morning News reported last month that the controversial $1.5 billion toll road isn’t expected to significantly help traffic congestion by 2035.

North Central Texas Council of Governments transportation director Michael Morris, perhaps the project’s most influential cheerleader, hasn’t been available to discuss the project for two weeks. But an agency spokeswoman said late Thursday that he was not dodging the issue. Dallas City Council member Vonciel Jones Hill, a proponent who chairs the Transportation and Trinity Project Committee, hasn’t returned phone calls.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, whose office previously didn’t reply to requests for comment, responded late Thursday after The News said a story was running about officials’ silence. That collective hush came after former advocates for the project flipped sides to oppose the 9-mile road. It continued even after a City Hall attorney said the City Council is likely under no obligation to fund the project.

Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs, who opposes the project, had a theory for the persistent quiet.

“I imagine they’re trying to come up with a new reason for it,” he said.

Wow.

To kill the project, a majority of the City Council has to side against it, and right now the votes aren’t there. But Formby notes that city elections next May could change that, if a new crop of candidates emerges to oppose the road.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Together North Jersey writes that limited transit and poor walking conditions are preventing some Newark residents from accessing jobs. And Transportation for America sums up how Denver overcame challenges to implementing its ambitious transit expansion.

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