Vonciel Jones Hill Calls the Trinity River a ‘Big Ditch’

Why did Mayor Mike Rawlings put her in charge of studying a compromise?

Yes, the Trinity is a river, not a ditch.  (photo: Flickr/Clark Crenshaw)
Yes, the Trinity is a river, not a ditch. (photo: Flickr/Clark Crenshaw)

Just had a chance to watch the video of Dallas City Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill lecturing a Texas House committee yesterday (jump to the 21-minute mark) about the Trinity project (h/t Unfair Park). For the benefit of the legislators considering State Rep. Rafael Anchia’s toll-road killing bills, she runs through all the arguments that you’d think would have been abandoned by now because they’ve been disproved.

That the road will help the people of southern Dallas get to their jobs, and so opposition to it is racist — even though the federal traffic study says it’ll make conditions worse on important arteries that many of those same workers use. That the fix of Dead Man’s Curve along S.M. Wright Freeway is dependent upon the toll road — even though the Wright project is moving forward while the Trinity’s future remains uncertain. That the voters have approved a massive tolled highway on the ballot twice — even though the ballot language only ever referred to the “Trinity Parkway,” a name that implies a road along a green-space rather than a six-lane behemoth beside a glorified drainage ditch.

A glorified drainage ditch is all Hill would ever have the Trinity River along downtown Dallas be. She said:

I hear a lot about how the parkway is going to ruin our park. Well, there is no park down there. ‘It will interfere with our lakes,’ well there are no lakes down there. It is a big ditch. People care about lakes, and I’m glad. People care about a park, and I’m glad, but the people in southern Dallas and southeast Dallas need an additional transportation artery to get to work. That’s what this is about, getting people to their jobs.

We mentioned this before, but Mayor Mike Rawlings revealed the whole act of bringing in a “dream team” to draw another set of pretty pictures of the road as a charade when he put Hill in charge of gathering public input on those recommendations.

Doesn’t the mayor hear her? She doesn’t give a damn about any component of this project aside from building a tolled highway so that her constituents can pay hundreds of dollars a month for the privilege of driving to work in Northwest Dallas. If Rawlings is even slightly serious about implementing the Beasley Plan — as he claims to be — it’s an embarrassment that he’s put Hill in charge.

Of course, there’s another possibility here as well: that Rawlings is, beneath his public pronouncements, just as much of a toll-road zealot. It sure seems like one side of this fight remains rooted in facts while the other is possessed of an unswerving faith.

Thing is, I’ve read enough history to be concerned about which of these is more useful in winning battles.

 

UPDATE, 1:02 p.m.: I’ve adjusted my characterization of Hill’s role in studying the Beasley plan. According to Tim (see comments), she is no longer in charge of gathering the public input on this compromise. If so, I’ll give the mayor a few points back.

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