Vonciel Jones Hill’s Assault on Logic in Defense of the Trinity Toll Road

Please read this. It took me too long to write it.

Photo courtesy mysweetcharity.com
Photo courtesy mysweetcharity.com

Today the paper offers two op-eds that you should read. The first was penned by Councilman Philip Kingston, who uses a funny comparison to Groundhog Day to argue that the Council needs to once and for all throw out the option of ever building a huge toll road between the levees. The second op-ed was written by Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill, who lays out an argument for the big toll road that is so self-contradictory and full of misinformation that it’s actually funnier than Kingston’s. Let’s dive in:

An additional transportation artery to and from southern and southeast Dallas is essential to the growth and development of those portions of the city, and, correspondingly, to the city as a whole. The Trinity Parkway would provide that additional capacity. The number of lanes on the road is secondary to the necessity of the road itself. Additionally, the road, to serve its optimal purpose, needs to be a reliever road and not just a city street with park access.

Translation: the number of lanes isn’t that important. Except it is very important. Because the road needs to be big.

Until recently, parkway opponents’ consistent refrain was that the road would destroy the potential downtown park. Setting aside the reality that no such park currently exists, anyone who wants to maximize the Trinity River’s potential should see that a road complements a park between the levees. That notion was clear in the recently released report of Mayor Mike Rawlings’ “dream team.”

That report shows that the park and the road can coexist. Not only could the two coexist, they can do so in a way that enhances, not diminishes, the park.

Translation: have I mentioned that there is currently no park between the levees? Why are we even arguing about how a huge toll road would impact a park when that park doesn’t exist? Unicorns also doesn’t exist. Are we going to let unicorns stop us from building a high-speed toll road?

Okay, forget unicorns for the moment. My point is, a road complements a park. The Beasley Plan shows us that. A few paragraphs earlier, I wrote that we can’t build that smaller, meandering Beasley road, the one that would complement a park. No, we have to build a big, high-speed toll road, the sort that would destroy a park. But now what I’m telling you is that unicorns do exist. I’ve seen them. And they want us to build a big toll road.

Since the dream team’s report, voices of opposition have now focused on the cost of the road. No one argues that building a road is cheap. Roads cost billions of dollars to construct. Moreover, funding for the complete build-out (which is what opponents are demanding up front for the parkway) is never available at the beginning of projects. Continual and creative financing accompanies the building of all roads, including the LBJ Freeway project, which is lauded by Trinity Parkway foes.

Certainly, financing the Trinity Parkway will be a challenge. However, that challenge is worth the traffic relief, economic development and air quality benefits that will result.

Translation: expensive things are not cheap. Just because you can’t afford something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it. We’ll figure this out later. Trust me.

In the next decade, Dallas’ population will grow exponentially. That growth will bring additional congestion to the already overcrowded streets and highways into and out of southern and southeast Dallas. Multimodal transportation options are needed, but those options will not eliminate vehicular traffic.

Translation: math has never been my strong suit. Right now, about 1.3 million people live in Dallas. If that number were to increase exponentially, we’d be talking about at least 2.6 million people. What I probably meant to say was the population will increase arithmetically. You know what? Probably just should have said “increase” and left it at that.

But “multimodal” is a good word, right?

However, additional traffic is not without economic benefit. Highway ingress and egress points are retail, recreational and residential incubators. For multiple examples, look no farther than the Dallas North Tollway or Central Expressway or State Highway 121.

Translation: I myself am thinking about moving closer to a highway offramp.

Traffic congestion also brings additional air-quality issues. A reliever road would lead to less time on the road and, consequently, less time for pollutants to invade the air.

Translation: I did not read Brandon Formby’s story last month that revealed federal studies show that a big toll road would actually increase traffic on other highways, including those in southern Dallas.

Parkway opponents argue that creating jobs in southern Dallas will obviate the necessity for the parkway. That thinking is shortsighted and provincial. People who live in south and southeast Dallas should have the flexibility of working wherever they can find the most favorable employment, regardless of the geographic locale. Their jobs should not be limited by transportation choices.

Translation: I’m on to these these park lovers. They are trying to trick us. They want to create jobs in southern Dallas so they can trap us there. I’m way too smart for that. No, no, no. I want to pay $150 or $200 extra each month for the freedom of sitting in my car.

Additionally, people living outside southern and southeast Dallas should be able to travel to those areas for jobs existing and created there. Intercity mobility, because of jobs, is a beneficial factor in breaking down barriers of racial and ethnic separation within this great city.

Translation: remember those jobs I didn’t want in southern Dallas? Just changed my mind.

The Trinity Parkway has already proved beneficial to southern Dallas in the reconstruction of S.M. Wright Freeway. Opponents are quick to point out that the S.M. Wright fix is proceeding without the parkway. Unfortunately, they have never bothered to ask how that fix was enabled. If they would ask that question, they would discover that Michael Morris, director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, and Linda Koop, then chair of the Regional Transportation Council, worked with the Federal Highway Administration to straighten Dead Man’s Curve and pursue the economic development boon of lowering S.M. Wright.

I respect the desire of everyone who wants an additional downtown park. Simultaneously, I ask that all respect the needs of southern and southeast Dallas to have an additional transportation artery that enhances our community, just as other roads have enhanced and enriched other communities.

Translation: in summary, I would like to play the race card while I confuse cause and effect. If they’d just open a branch of Beal Bank in South Dallas, everything would be fine.

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