After another setback last week, the plan to build a toll road inside the Trinity River levees could be in for a makeover. The Regional Transportation Council refused to ask lawmakers to fund the nine-mile stretch past downtown Dallas. And now Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings hopes to win over toll road opponents by unveiling a new Trinity Parkway design summit.
It may be a hard sell, winning over toll road opponents like Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs. He’s not impressed with plans to tweak the Trinity toll road design.
“It’s at a place where the only changes that could be made to the plan is putting lipstick on a pig, if you will. And so it would really be too little too late," Griggs said. "This is really about trying to sell the public on some pretty pictures and water colors to sell the public on a project that everyone knows is a boondoggle."
“The Parkway really is needed," says Craig Holcomb, executive director of Trinity Commons Foundation which is raising money to fund the design summit. "We have a traffic problem and we’ve got to do something.”
He says it is not too late for changes to make the Parkway better.
“Right now, they’re 30 percent designed which has basically been done by engineers," Holcomb said. "And I have great respect and affection for engineers, but there may be some ideas out there that they haven’t thought of because it really wasn’t their job to think of them. And that’s what we’re going for.”
Holcomb says on Wednesday, Rawlings will announce a slate of summit members, including traffic engineers, economic development experts and urban planners. Any proposed changes must work within the Parkway environmental impact study – almost completed after many years and millions of dollars. And he says the public will be able to weigh-in on the proposed design changes.
Griggs calls the design summit a last gasp for the Trinity toll road. He says people in North Texas do not want another toll road. And he rejects City Hall’s long-standing argument that economic development would not come to West Dallas and North Oak Cliff without the parkway.
“People are saying we don’t need this road," Griggs said. "We’re getting the economic development and other benefits that we need. So what’s the reason for it.
Holcomb says he’s convinced people want a remedy for downtown freeway gridlock and are willing to take a new look at the Trinity Parkway. He’s hopeful some innovative tweaking may bridge the longstanding divide over a toll road in the floodway above a park.