I Can’t Even

This is me right now.  https://youtu.be/kdpG92dsx1A

I just read quite possibly the worst justification for building a new highway, maybe ever.  You can read it here.  I am going to systematically debunk it below.

The lower Stemmons area is home to the Stemmons Corridor Business Association, a 34-year-old advocacy group for 5,000 area businesses that employ 170,000 people and constitute 20 percent of the city of Dallas’ tax base.

My research shows 117,000 jobs and 13,000 residents.  If the actual jobs numbers are indeed 170,000, then the land use imbalance is even worse than I thought.

The association favors construction of the Trinity Parkway for the traffic relief and enhanced travel safety it will provide. Choosing to do nothing is simply not an option. We cannot continue to have 21st-century traffic volumes serviced by a 1950s-era freeway.

3,500 Texans die on the roads each year.  Moving faster and driving further is less safe.  Lower Stemmons is next on TxDOT’s list to fix.  Nobody is suggesting doing nothing.  But those suggesting Adding a Trinity Toll Road are stuck in the 1950’s.

Whether traveling to their jobs in the lower Stemmons Corridor or to other parts of the region, tens of thousands of drivers experience gridlock on a daily basis.

More highways bring more traffic.  Not less congestion.  The only way out of congestion is to reduce car trips and trip length.  Congestion is caused by car-dependence created by the highways and this logic.  There are two ways to solve congestion:  the Vancouver way and the Detroit way.  One builds more city, reduces car-dependence, improves alternative forms of transportation, builds more housing closer to jobs and amenities, in other words, builds more city.  The other builds more freeways and moves everyone out of the city.

Their experience is validated by a recent transportation study by the Texas Department of Transportation on freeways that converge into the Central Business District/Lower Stemmons area. The study documents that the area has 2 of the top 10 most congested roads in Texas. Left unaddressed, the gridlock will grow, increasing congestion delays 65 percent by 2035, resulting in annual travel delay costs of $185 million.

Completely agree.  Freeways in downtown cause congestion and must be addressed.  Not in the way you are thinking though.

The same study found the accident rates on these freeways are 21/2 to three times greater than other Texas urban freeways because of the traffic congestion and out-of-date roadway design.

I also agree.  Freeways through cities are incredibly unsafe and hazardous to human health.  Glad we agree on so much.

As a comparison of feasibility, the cost of the parkway is about 30 percent of the overall cost of the DART light rail system

An 8-mile road costs 30% of a 90-mile light rail system.  Or, on a per mile basis the Trinity Toll Road will cost 3.78 times the DART rail system.

Some suggest alternatives to the parkway construction, such as walkability urban design. However, based upon the cost of urban developments in the Design District, it would take more than $20 billion in development to alleviate the same traffic congestion that the parkway is designed to solve.

Are you really suggesting that spending $1.8 billion in public money is better than $20 billion in profitable private investment and new tax base?  That surely can’t be what you’re suggesting.  $20 billion in new tax base, delivering housing closer to the jobs and amenities in the area, would provide nearly $600 million in new property tax revenue.  Quite a bit more than that $185 million highway congestion costs the city in theoretical money.

I don’t need to quote anymore.  That’s the key quote right there.  It’s that line of thinking that has pervaded for the last fifty years and is the reason why the city is in such poor shape physically and financially.  Want to know why city streets need $900 million just to get to a decent state of repair?  That mindset.  Want to know why traffic signals citywide need $800 million in upgrades?  That logic.  Or should I say, illogic. We’re actively spending public money, time, and resources to drive away investment and tax base.


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