Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Watercolor artists find work in Big D

Dallas’ Only Daily newspaper printed its third front page Trinity toll road story of the week today. This one was accompanied inside the paper by a lovely watercolor rendering of a toll road. Unfortunately the News did not reproduce it on their web site so I can’t paste it here. (My better half thinks we could use a nice watercolor painting of a toll road to pretty up the living room.) It is tree-lined and has lovely landscaping all around it. The NTTA also released a video of computer generated animation showing what the toll road might or might not look like. There is a disclaimer before the video stating that the project may not resemble the video. Mayor Tom “feel(s) very comfortable” that the renderings are accurate.

Naturally the good guys say that these pictures completely misrepresent the project. Angela Hunt, whom the Morning News has been keeping busy this week, responds. From the article:

…District 14 Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt, the toll road's leading opponent and architect of the toll road proposition before voters in November, argued that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers won't allow trees to be planted in the sides of the river levees as depicted in the anti-proposition campaign's toll road renderings.

A verdant median also disappears if the toll road is expanded from an initial four lanes to six, Ms. Hunt argued.

Members of the Dallas city staff acknowledged as much Tuesday during a meeting of the City Council's Trinity River Corridor Committee.

So it seems that the message of the pro toll road people is to show us pretty pictures of roads, and how they don’t really intrude on the park. Meanwhile, they still don’t know how much it’s going to cost or exactly how they’re going to do it. I can’t emphasize that enough. There seems to be no plan of how to protect this road from flooding while not obstructing the flow of the river during flooding.

Over in the blogosphere, I am noticing a trend to favor the "city versus suburb" argument, which I mentioned in my initial manifesto (point 3). Several commenters at the Observer and Advocate blogs have gravitated to the idea that this highway is for suburbanites commuting to their downtown offices. The lovely community of Southlake is often invoked as a place where people will benefit from a new commuter highway. Well, it appears at least one of the residents of Southlake has caught on that this project is good for him. Dan Quinto writes this in the DMN letters section today:

If improving the quality of life of North Texas residents is the point of the Trinity River Project, then consider the 200,000 commuters who would benefit daily from the increased beauty and reduced stress of their daily commute using the Trinity toll road.

I cannot think of any recreational or pedestrian use that would match that benefit alone. Roadways are as much a part of urban life as great public spaces. Treating our roadways with the same care and affection will benefit both our cities and our lives.

Well, there you have it. Dallas should give away their parkland in order to build Dan a nicer road from his house to his office and improve his quality of life. His letter actually illustrates nicely how short-sighted this project is. There is no recreational or pedestrian use that would match the benefit of getting Mr. Quinto back home to Southlake faster and in style. To Mr. Quinto of Southlake, roadways are just as important as great public spaces. Even if I were to agree, I would have to take issue with a roadway running through a great public space.

Fortunately the residents of Southlake will not be voting in the referendum. The park users will.


homegrown tomato said...

Let's hope that Dan from Southlake will settle for a lovely watercolor rendering of a tollroad that will never be.

Brian said...

Indeed, HT! Hope I didn't pile on too hard on Dan. I'm sure he's a nice guy and all. I'm sure he won't mind being my stereotype of generic Southlake guy.