The Real Reason Mary Suhm and Jill Jordan are Killing the Trinity Trails

I know what you’re thinking. You think that the city staff pulled a bait-and-switch yesterday.

Some background: Last year, city manager Mary Suhm went to the City Council and told members that she had some surplus bond monies they could spend. Each person got an equal share. Angela Hunt wrote at the time about what she and Scott Griggs decided to do with their money:

We allocated all of our combined $5.6m towards the construction of floodway maintenance roads along the Trinity River that can also serve as hike and bike trails. The mayor joined us, contributing half a million dollars, and shared our enthusiasm about moving forward on the Trinity Park.

With over $6 million dollars, we will be able to build a 4.5 mile, winding, 16-foot-wide concrete road down in the floor of the floodway, stretching from the Sylvan Bridge to the Santa Fe Trestle in Moore Park. (To put this in perspective, the Katy Trail is 3.75 miles long.) Only occasionally will maintenance vehicles use this road, and it will be closed to public vehicles. The rest of the time, it can be used as a hike and bike trail.

Everyone signed off, including other council members, the DMN, assistant city manager Jill Jordan, and Suhm. Note that Hunt mentioned there would be maintenance vehicles there occasionally. No one thought this was a problem. Hunt told me just last week that this was one of the proudest accomplishments of her 8-year tenure.

What happened next caught everyone off guard.

Yesterday, city staff essentially told the Council that the proposal was too dangerous. They painted a picture of a volatile situation, wherein hikers and bikers would be swerving in and out from between maintenance trucks, blinded by dust devils whipped up by the trucks themselves.

The response from Hunt, Griggs, and even the DMN was one of outrage. Hunt called it “theater of the absurd.” Griggs put forth the bait-and-switch scenario. And even Sharon Grigsby at the DMN, an acknowledged moderate prone to seeing the glass half full, suggests this was political payback, pure and simple:

So was the trail proposal a bone thrown to Hunt so she would “shut up and go away” on the Pegasus-Horseshoe-Trinity fight? No doubt (although no one would really expect Hunt to “go away.”) But was it a bone that City Hall agreed to, knowing that it would be yanked back out of reach? That’s what yesterday’s hearing looked like to me.

I was inclined to agree. But then, just moments ago, I received a shocking revelation.

Suhm and Jordan should not be criticized for this. They should be praised.

I learned that highly paid consultants in the hike/bike/disaster industry staged a top-secret role-playing exercise to find out what would happen if we actually constructed the Trinity Trails connector and let innocent people into that pit of sorrow. This video shows how that exercise spun violently out of control, and how these people should be regarded as heroes for the horrors they’ve averted. Adios, motherf***er, indeed.


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  • Pegaso

    Is anyone else sick of this do-nothing city council?

    • mdunlap1

      The city manager has been even worse. Thankfully she’s quitting.

  • GeorgeOdem

    That puts it in a whole new light! Thank you, Mary Suhm and Jill Jordan. You motherf*ckers saved my life, and the lives of so many others!

  • Tim Rogers

    I say this in all seriousness: this would not happen in Fort Worth. A couple weeks ago, they had a concert in Funkytown on the banks of the Trinity. They let people rent inner tubes and float on the river during the show. And drink beer! I thought, “Man, they do it better Where the West Begins. I just know our Nanny State city government wouldn’t allow people to get out on the river like that. ‘It’s too dirty! It’s not safe!’ And so on.”

    Well, except as you say, Eric, this doesn’t look like it was really about safety.

  • Eric Celeste

    Did you not watch the video? It is ENTIRELY about safety.

    [Watches video for 13th time since noon]

  • Tim Rogers

    It’s funny. If you’d asked me if I’d every seen Maximum Overdrive, I would have said, “Eh, don’t think so.” But watching that clip made my Tim brain remember it all. Or most of it, anyway. I remember thinking that the truck with the machine gun would never be able to reload its own machine gun.

  • Johnyalamo

    Cranky Manager Shuts Down City Playground

    Dear Citizens,

    Last week our City Manager, who has been upset by the noise from the playground, called the police. As you may be aware, the Ms Hunt has been working to remedy the situation over the past several months. Until this issue is resolved, your City Council will play outside in the courtyard and not be playing on the playground. I will inform you of progress as we move forward.

    I apologize for any inconvenience. As always, the well being of your children or “City Council” is our primary concern. Thank you for your understanding.

    Citizens of Dallas

  • BenS.

    So, currently you can ride/walk/hike the dirt roads along the levees, thirty something miles worth and not see a soul. Pull a Tonto and look at the ground you’ll see no tire tracks or evidence anyone has been through there on something with 4 wheels in weeks. Especially west of Hampton where the roads are impassable. Even between I-35 and Sylvan evidence of only one or two sets of tracks are set atop of each other.

    They road grade every so often, maybe quarterly. They mow a couple times a year. They drag bulldozers out when some dirt needs piling up. Motorized vehicles down there are a non-issue.

    A Dallas Marshal or a Dallas Police squad car might be the only thing seen down there and they can see you/you can see them 1/2 mile away.

    Delaying or even tomb stoning the levee trails and connectors is a below the belt hit to the quality of life for so many in West Dallas and Oak Cliff. They don’t have a Katy Trail or White Rock Lake to run around in the evenings. They get out on the levees and hit the brick dust unpaved surface. It’s all they have.

  • Bill Marvel

    I sniff a lawyer in this. Either that or the wind is bowing off the sewer plant again.