The Long, Slow Death of the Trinity Toll Road

Roads are fun to talk about.

Not going to happen.  (concept drawing via NTTA)
Not going to happen. (concept drawing via NTTA)

The number of people who still think we need a toll road built along the Trinity River has dwindled, it appears, to two: Michael Morris of NCTCOG and Bill Hale of TxDOT. You’ll recall the op-ed they wrote on April 7, in which they argued that we couldn’t talk about tearing down I-345 until we build the toll road as a reliever route. We argue in our May issue that the Trinity toll road is dead. And this morning the Morning News published an op-ed saying the same thing. This salvo comes in direct response to Morris and Hale. It was fired by former city council member Angela Hunt and current members Sandy Greyson, Scott Griggs, Philip Kingston, and Adam Medrano. If you can read it and come away still thinking that we need that toll road, then consider the following:

Let’s say that the Army Corps of Engineers gives us the green light to build the road. That decision would come in December. Before anything with the road can happen, though, the Corps says we have to move the river (in part because restoring its natural meander was the plan all along). The city’s portion of that work will cost $185 million, and the project would take nine years to complete. Our next bond vote will come in 2017. Don’t forget that the bond vote will have to address $900 million worth of needed street repairs. Let’s just say we tack on the $185 million for river meandering (a $1.085 billion bond!), and it passes. That means the river project can theoretically begin in 2017. Nine years later, construction of the toll road could begin — if a broke TxDOT can find a private partner willing to pay for it.

2026: that is the soonest that work on this toll road could begin. 1998: that was the year we first voted to build the road. Twenty-eight years is a long time to push for a road that only two people now want.

Which raises a question: aren’t Morris and Hale both approaching retirement age?


  • CSP

    I tend to agree that we shouldn’t build it, but to play Devil’s Advocate:

    “2026: that is the soonest that work on this toll road could begin. 1998: that was the year we first voted to build the road.”

    I’m not sure I see the connection here between these two facts. If the road really is needed, does it really matter if it was voted on in 1998 or 2008 or 2013? If it’s needed, it’s needed.

  • DelkusSleeves

    The project cost would surely double by the time they ever even thought of starting the road in the river.

  • Greg Brown

    Um, it is not needed. That is the point.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    Even Tom Leppert said in 2007 that if the road took until 2016 to start, and the cost approached $2 billion, that it would make no sense to build it.

  • Johnyalamo

    2026. Thats the year everyone will have those flying cars they’ve been touting all these years. Amazon’s drones will be delivering everything… so the idea of a toll road will be woefully outdated by then.

  • Mike Kimbro

    Not to mention, we should have those pesky flying cars by then.

  • Mike Kimbro

    And, I should read ALL the comments before thinking I’m funny.

  • dallasboiler

    Funny, I must have missed the fine print in that 1998 proposition. I recall voting on a park (it did have a minor parkway servicing it), but it seemed like more than 50% of the funds were supposed to go to a park. At least the nice pictures provided to voters made it look that way. I’ll take the over on if we’ll see sailboats on the Trinity by 2026.

    • Guest

      Yes, all the nice pictures. Dallas citizens need to start asking who gets paid for all these pictures and how much TRCP money and other taxpayer monies have been spent making them (as opposed to actual amenities).

      Then, we need to ask why there’s little to no scientific basis for these proposals pitched almost exclusively through nice pictures. Ever wonder why the science comes last? Only then do we hear of the multiple improbabilities and impending disasters if these idealist scenarios were ever attempted.

  • Michael Amonett

    The original meander was closer to downtown, not further away. You can look under the Houston St. Viaduct and see exactly where it was. The place where there are no arches is where the river was… Closer to Industrial or Riverfront.