Time has come to move forward on Trinity River
Changing course now may delay improvements to city eyesore
I usually know how I’m going to vote long before Election Day rolls around, but it took me a lot longer this time.
The controversy surrounding the Trinity River Corridor Project had left me stumped. I didn’t know what I thought about the inclusion of a toll road in the project, and I’m not sure I really cared one way or the other. I don’t particularly like high speed roads and try to avoid them, but they are a fact of life in a large urban area.
I wasn’t alone in my confusion.
I was having dinner with a friend of mine from East Dallas recently who stays pretty well informed and always votes. We were talking about local politics when she suddenly asked me if I recalled any mention of a high-speed toll road being planned for the improvement project when it was voted on a decade ago.
Neither one of us could recall any discussion of it back then, but that probably could be written off to old age or any number of other things.
At any rate, it’s not whether we fully understood what we were voting for that caused me concern about the project. If I go to vote and I don’t fully understand what is on the ballot, it’s because I haven’t taken the time to familiarize myself with the issue.
I was concerned about something that is not even on the ballot in November. It was something I think about every day when I go back and forth across the bridge that separates Downtown Dallas from my home in Oak Cliff.
It was the huge rain earlier in the year that caused me to get concerned about the park itself. As near as I could tell, if there had already been a spectacular park in the river bottom it would have been under water by the time the rain stopped.
That bugged me because I assumed when the water receded the park would be left destroyed.
It turns out I was wrong, according to former City Councilman Ed Oakley, whom I called to express my concerns. He explained that there wouldn’t be any structures in the flood plain, and that when the water recedes the planned lakes, soccer fields, parking lots and the rest of the greenbelt would be intact, except for any clean-up that is required.
He compared it to what occurs at Trammel Crow Park every time it rains. It all goes under water, and then dries out.
Oakley said the floodwaters would recede more quickly after the project is completed because of improved drainage in the southern area of the flood plain. And fortunately, heavy flooding in the river bottom is not that frequent, he said.
That was simple enough, and I began to get a clearer view of the park facilities that are planned in the flood plain. I began to think of it more in terms of a large expanse of parkland, rather than smaller parks such as Reverchon Park and Lee Park with the amenities they offer.
Then I began to think of what I look at now when I cross the bridge from Downtown Dallas to Oak Cliff. I would welcome such a visual change, and whatever helps it come about more quickly I support even if it includes a toll road running along side of the park.
I doubt that I will ever use the toll road, but I certainly see the need for relieving traffic congestion in the network of highways surrounding Downtown Dallas. As long as the toll road does not interfere with flood control in the river bottom and smarter people than me have said it won’t I don’t object to it.
The reason I’m going to vote against Proposition 1 which would kill the toll road is that regardless of what anyone claims, changing the plans at this point will cause more delays in improving the eyesore that is now one of the focal points in the center of Dallas.
We’ve waited long enough to get started on this project.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 28, 2007