Balanced Vision Plan Co-Author on Trinity River Toll Road: ‘I Want to Apologize to Dallas’

Alex Krieger is dropping on a bomb.

Alex Krieger

People, if you haven’t gotten your tickets yet for this week’s big urban planning event — Choices for a 21st Century Dallas: Connecting People and Opportunities — you’d best do so now. And get your popcorn ready, because Harvard professor and Balanced Vision Plan co-author Alex Krieger says he’s coming to town “with guns blazing.”

I called him today to get a quote for a column I’m wrapping up for the October issue. Krieger is already on record (the last time he was in town, at the New Cities summit) as saying he thought a plan that favors moving traffic over making a beautiful park along the Trinity was flawed. But he plans to be much more direct in his speech in Dallas on Friday.

“I want to apologize to Dallas,” Krieger said this afternoon. “I feel like I helped persuade a whole lot of people that the road in the Trinity was a good idea. And that’s the reason I want to apologize. Because, yes, a parkway that makes the Trinity more accessible is a good idea. A fricking highway is not the thing to do.”

How did we get to this point, then?

“We were all duped a bit,” Krieger says. “It’s clear now that the traffic folks nodded as we showed them the Balanced Vision Plan, but they were just waiting for us to get out of town.”

That “balanced vision” was for a very narrow plan, Krieger says, meaning a four-lane downtown parkway. “Not a superhighway toll road, which definitely should not be built inside the levee.”

“Think about the term ‘parkway,’ ” he says. “A parkway creates pleasure drives to connect open spaces and park spaces. I still think the Trinity needs a fine access road that allows people to be a part of the Trinity River environment. It allows access to parts of the river. So a road is necessary. A parkway is a good thing. But that distinction is lost on the engineering profession.”

“I’m coming in [to Dallas] with guns blazing, because I feel we were duped a bit. We were envisioning a particular kind of access road,” Krieger says. “And the engineers assumed all along that once we left, they would describe it as the Balanced Vision Plan but in fact were designing a highway.”

This weekend is shaping up to be an exciting one. I take mine with truffle butter, please.


  • Pegaso

    We need a toll road opponent to run for mayor, now.

    • Me Myself

      Good luck, Pegaso. First, that toll road opponent needs to convince North Dallas that they are pro-business. Second, the candidate would have to “get friendly” with the ministers in South Dallas. Third, they would need a LOT of money to run against Rep. Carona.

  • SamMerten

    Alex Krieger in a March 2007 email to then-Mayor Laura Miller: “…during my most recent visit…what concerned me most was that the engineering of the road was proceeding as if it were a great big interstate highway instead of a parkway and that there was absolutely no evidence of concern for the ‘context sensitive design’ that was promised as part of the Balanced Vision Plan.”

    • Eric Celeste

      Your comment wasn’t up when I put mine up, Sam, but, yes, same email.

    • Jim Schermbeck

      For many of us, the more important question in 2014, is why isn’t Mayor Rawlings more concerned about this contradiction in planning, to the point of making up new reasons to support the great big divided highway toll road?

  • Eric Celeste

    To be fair, Krieger was concerned about this a long time ago. I just think now he knows this wasn’t a planning mishap or miscommunication during the planning stages. It’s long-term willful deception.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    Someone should fill Mr. Krieger in on what the president of the Dallas Citizens Council told an audience of real estate executives about his (Mr. Krieger’s) role in the development of the toll road. Reportedly (someone else needs to confirm this), she stated that Mr. Krieger is the one who selected the road’s current alignment and implied that he was solidly behind the toll road.

  • Christine Rogers

    Guns blazing is a propos for a Bostonian coming to Dallas. The guy knows his audience. And Eric, not to trivialize, you had me at truffle.

  • Me Myself

    Clearly, Mr. Kreiger is a little naive about Dallas politics. He said above, “I still think the Trinity needs a fine access road that allows people to be a part of the Trinity River environment. It allows access to parts of the river. So a road is necessary.”

    Um, what? Any road, even a small one, is a beachhead to a tollway. There are plenty of places for people to park behind evees.

    • Jim Schutze

      No kidding. Krieger, puhleeeze. They fooled you once. Do not get back in that bed, even fully clothed.

  • Eric Celeste

    An increasingly interesting, worthwhile question.

  • Bill

    I think Sam is suggesting something different than what you are Eric. That Krieger was well aware of the City staff’s tollway/interstate intentions and kept quiet, and that he’s complaining seven years too late? Sam and the Mayor are embarrassing themselves with their continued support of the Trinity River Toll road. No serious person believes that tollway is good idea.

  • Othello

    Because Citizen’s Council, which Eric will tell us no longer has the power it once did in 4…3…2..

  • SamMerten

    I was not suggesting something different. My continued support of the toll road? Please, Bill, show me where I have ever expressed support for the toll road.

  • Brenda Marks

    As they say, a day late and dollar short. He owes Angela Hunt a public apology and deserves a public flogging. He knew what was going on in 2007. I’m not fooled.

  • Bill

    Sam, I stand corrected. Please accept my apology.
    Do you support the freeway between the levees, just not the toll road part? Neither?

  • SamMerten

    Apology accepted, Bill. I do not support a freeway or toll road between the levees.