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Thread: TRP: Trinity River Tollway | V2.0

  1. #501
    High-Rise Member boozo's Avatar
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    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont....548d6125.html

    Ask the Editor: Managing Editor George Rodrigue

    02:45 PM CST on Friday, November 30, 2007

    One of my editors here used to have a sign over his desk. It said, “Never wrestle with a pig. You both get filthy, and the pig loves it.”

    The saying came to mind as I wondered whether to respond to another set of accusations about our Trinity River coverage from the Dallas Observer’s Jim Schutze. I’ve already written about Jim’s poor command of the facts and his habit of telling falsehoods about our coverage, and about the Trinity issue. I’ve also cited a range of facts that I believe proves the fairness and accuracy of our coverage.

    But Jim’s at it again, this time with a fanciful column that accuses us of “sitting on” an earth-shattering story about massive cost overruns that would cost Dallas taxpayers a billion extra dollars for the Trinity toll road. And because Jim’s a colorful and persuasive writer, I’m getting the usual demands to defend our honor.

    Very well. His column’s worth discussing, because it’s another fine vehicle for understanding how a good newspaper works, and how different that is from Jim’s work.

    Jim’s theory is that our editors suppressed a story by transportation writer Michael Lindenberger until after the Trinity election, because if we’d printed it beforehand it would have tipped the political balance against the proposed toll road.

    Jim wrote, “I sort of hate to beat up on Lindenberger, who wrote some very solid coverage during the campaign and does a great job of covering transportation generally. He got a better interview than I did, asked a better question, and went back to the newsroom with a very big story.” Then, Jim says, “Somebody at the News sat on this.”

    Part of what Jim says is true. Michael did do a better job than Jim, he did ask better questions, and he has covered the beat well.

    One of Michael’s questions, before the election, was how much the North Texas Tollway Authority could afford to pay for the toll road. He dug through documents at the NTTA, but found only cost estimates, not revenue projections. NTTA maintains the revenue estimates won’t be available for another couple of years. As for the cost estimates, Michael learned that what we’d been reporting all along was correct: The road inside the Trinity River levees was the cheapest alternative.

    NTTA’s best estimate was that building the highway inside the levees would cost $1.29 billion, about $300 million less than building it outside the levees, on Industrial Boulevard.

    Michael talked to NTTA Chairman Paul Wageman, who told him that if the costs of the tollway rise above current estimates, the NTTA might ask its partners, including the city of Dallas and the Regional Transportation Council, to pay more to build the road.

    To Michael, this just stated the obvious. The NTTA is a government entity, but it’s also a self-supporting organization. Like private businesses, it can’t make investments that would bankrupt it. There was, however, no evidence that the costs of the Trinity toll road would exceed what NTTA could pay, and Michael knew that even if costs did rise, the state and federal governments were more likely sources of extra dollars than was City Hall.

    Michael concluded that the facts he had available to him fell far short of what was needed for a meaningful story. So he never even mentioned the chairman’s comment to his editors.

    Instead, he wrote the other story he was researching. He pointed out that toll road supporters were wrong to claim that killing the high-speed highway would cost the city a billion dollars, because the dollars were mostly intended for the road, which would no longer be part of the plan.

    Just after the election, as is common in the news business, Michael wrote a “what’s next?” story. It was a big-picture piece about all the uncertainties surrounding the toll road, including its funding. That story briefly mentioned that the Wageman interview was a month old. Jim seized upon the date as evidence of censorship.

    Jim offers no evidence in support of his allegation, and simple logic refutes it.

    Our own story shows we weren’t hiding anything. Jim knew the quote was a month old because Michael printed that fact high in his story. Why would we advertise the timing if it were a source of shame for us? For that matter, why would we advertise the quotation?

    Next question: Was there a big story worth hiding?

    Jim argues that the comment from Mr. Wageman mattered because a huge funding shortfall would leave Dallas taxpayers holding the bag. “So far,” he wrote, “The amount of money available from the tollway authority, added to our $84 million, looks like it will be less than $300 million.”

    But Michael says the $300 million estimate is years old, made back when the tollway was expected to cost only about $600 million. Mr. Wageman’s own comments show how irrelevant the $300 million figure has become. In effect, he said that the NTTA would not have to ask for more help if the road cost $1.3 billion. Which is still the best available cost estimate.

    Jim hasn’t shared copies of the estimates he claims to have seen predicting that costs could exceed $2 billion. In theory, if the project takes long enough to build, inflation could push it that high. But based on past experience, prudent readers would want to verify Jim’s claims about what’s in the files.

    For instance, just before the Trinity vote occurred, Jim wrote that he’d discovered documents at the NTTA saying it would cost no more to place the tollway outside the levees, along Industrial Boulevard, than inside them, on vacant land.

    That mystified Michael, because it went against everything he’d ever seen in the files. He wondered how it could be cheaper to build a road on land covered with businesses than on undeveloped land that the public already owned. Sam Lopez, a spokesman for the NTTA, wrote to Michael to say that Jim had simply gotten it wrong. He had apparently taken one estimate for the Trinity project between the levees, with right-of-way costs included, and compared it to another estimate of what it would take to build the road along Industrial – but without including any of the right-of-way costs. Despite Jim’s unqualified assertion to the contrary, the NTTA hadn’t reversed its longstanding position: The cheapest way to build the road was still to keep it inside the levees.

    Finally, Jim argued that if we had mentioned the mere possibility that the NTTA might ask Dallas for more money to build the road, the story would have grievously wounded Mayor Tom Leppert’s credibility.

    “That flies straight in the face of repeated promises throughout the campaign,” he wrote. “Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert insisted repeatedly that he had secured a personal handshake deal with the tollway authority by which they agreed never to seek more money from Dallas taxpayers.”

    Soon enough, though, Jim told a different story. Here’s his description, in a later column, of what the mayor said: “Part of the deal here is that Leppert is a former McKinsey and Associates consultant, and so you get all this talk from him that’s board-[r]oom sales-pitch schmoozola, lacking the element of precision. Sounds good, but what he says always leaves him a lot of wriggle room. ‘Looked them in the eye’ and ‘very comfortable’ are not the same as ‘I have an agreement with them’.”

    So, which of Jim’s versions is one to believe? Were there “repeated promises”? Our reporters, who covered Mayor Leppert quite closely during the Trinity debate, never heard him promise that NTTA wouldn’t ask for more money. What they heard him say was that the city is committed to paying no more than $84 million for a highway that’s likely to cost $1.3 billion – that the 1998 bond election in which Dallas voters approved the Trinity project in effect capped the city’s commitment at $84 million.

    Is there a logical conflict here that makes a liar out of the mayor? Not if you believe Jim’s more recent description of what the mayor said. And not if you believe it’s possible for the NTTA to ask for more money, and for the city to say no.

    If costs rise, if NTTA asks for more money, and if the city declines to pay it, there would be many possibilities: NTTA could get the money from the state and federal governments, whose transportation spending dwarfs the city’s; it could subsidize the Trinity tollway with revenue from other parts of its system; it could scale back the project, by cutting the number of lanes or exit ramps for instance, or take other steps to cut construction costs. Or it could choose not to build the tollway.

    And what if the city, when and if the funding question rises again, does choose to spend more on the road? It’s been nine years since the bond referendum. An $84 million commitment in 1998 is worth over $100 million today, factoring in ordinary inflation (road-construction costs are rising even faster). Would it be scandalous if the city chose to spend more on the tollway?

    That’s a value question, and everyone’s entitled to his own answer. Mine is, “It depends.” If the decision is made openly – if, say, there’s another bond election, and voters choose to invest more in the highway – then the new spending would meet the same test of public consent as the original 1998 bonds did.

    But that’s the real world. What about the world of local journalism?

    As I see it, The News had a careful, well-informed reporter, Michael Lindenberger, who aggressively pursued an important story about the toll road’s financial prospects. He had a throwaway quotation that was all but meaningless without factual context. He didn’t think he knew enough to write a narrowly focused story that was fair, complete and significant. So he took more time to pull together a broader report on all the uncertainties surrounding the toll road.

    Had I known about the quotation he gathered during his interview at the NTTA, I might have asked for a short story, just to get the agency’s position on the record.

    But Michael wanted to ensure that readers could put the quotation in proper context, and I respect that. Journalists often must balance speed with thoroughness and self-restraint, as Michael did here.

    Then we have Jim. He had missed the story Michael found; he didn’t know enough to ask the right questions. His own work on the project’s economics was hundreds of millions of dollars off the mark, according to the NTTA.

    Jim feels passionately that the Trinity toll road should not be built, and he routinely dedicates his columns to making that point – often torturing the facts and straining logic in the process. As he says, on some stories he doesn’t even try to be fair.

    So maybe he really can’t believe that Michael chose to keep researching the financial story, rather than print something that wasn’t all that new, and might be misleading.

    Still, it’s strange to see Jim, having been beaten to this story, try to turn the fact that we printed it into an argument that we were trying to hide it.

  2. #502
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boozo
    [URL=http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/opinion/askeditor/stories/113007dnediasktheeditor.548d6125.html]
    Ask the Editor: Managing Editor George Rodrigue
    ...
    Would it be scandalous if the city chose to spend more on the tollway?
    duh. Yes, it would be scandalous.

  3. #503
    Skyscraper Member Spjz's Avatar
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    Maybe it's just me, but I recall reading the infamous Lindenberger story the morning it came out. Lindenberger's claim seemed fairly simple: the NTTA may ask its partners, including the city, to provide more money. Schutze jumped all over it. I think Rodrigue's response over complicates the original stories claim.

    Regardless, I think that the power to kill this road rests in the hands of Denton and Collin County voters and elected officials as well as the appointed NTTA officials from those counties. If inner city voters endorse a road like this, than certainly they will too; unless somebody can show them that they will pay for this road and receive no benefit from it.

  4. #504
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    Quote Originally Posted by boozo
    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont....548d6125.html

    Ask the Editor: Managing Editor George Rodrigue

    02:45 PM CST on Friday, November 30, 2007

    And what if the city, when and if the funding question rises again, does choose to spend more on the road? It’s been nine years since the bond referendum. An $84 million commitment in 1998 is worth over $100 million today, factoring in ordinary inflation (road-construction costs are rising even faster). Would it be scandalous if the city chose to spend more on the tollway?

    That’s a value question, and everyone’s entitled to his own answer. Mine is, “It depends.”
    Mine is, "Mayor Leppert should be recalled for intentionally deceiving the voters."

    Of course he'll be long gone back to Hawaii by then.

    And, as tamtagon correctly pointed out, it would indeed be scandalous.

  5. #505
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    Of course it would be scandalous. . .and I've got one more comment for the folks over at BELO, and the "Managed" news. . .Stop trying so hard to prove to us that your paper is unbiased and fair. Most of us already know the truth.
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

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  7. #507
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    Completion Dates Pusehd Back Again

    Dallas' Trinity River project slated to be finished by 201409:21 PM CST on Tuesday, January 8, 2008
    From staff reports

    The city of Dallas has updated its construction schedules for the Trinity River Corridor project, with all major components expected to be completed by 2014.

    The new schedules, presented Tuesday to the City Council's Trinity River committee, don't substantially change the completion dates for the Trinity toll road, the downtown park and lakes or other key components, said Rebecca Dugger, the city staff member overseeing the project. Rather, she said, they provide additional detail about various interim phases of construction.

    She added that the staff will continue working to find ways to accelerate completion of the project, a stated goal of Mayor Tom Leppert. Officials of the North Texas Tollway Authority, meanwhile, told the council committee that a next-to-final public hearing on the proposed toll road could take place by August, with final approval of the roadway possible by November 2009.

    Bruce Tomaso
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

  8. #508
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    I don't think this has been posted, yet.

    http://www.myfoxdfw.com/myfox/pages/...tentId=4959738
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

  9. #509
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    City Staffers Acknowledge Toll Road Will Cost More Than Stated Before Election

    http://www.wfaa.com/video/wfaagenera...d=206832&shu=1

    According to Mitchell Rasansky: "These things happen in the real world, and that's what's going to happen here."

    Thanks Papa Rasansky for giving us those those words of wisdom.
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

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    Moderator jsoto3's Avatar
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    Last edited by jsoto3; 09 January 2008 at 08:26 PM.

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  12. #512
    All Purpose Moderator warlock55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mballar
    http://www.wfaa.com/video/wfaagenera...d=206832&shu=1

    According to Mitchell Rasansky: "These things happen in the real world, and that's what's going to happen here."

    Thanks Papa Rasansky for giving us those those words of wisdom.

    I am shocked, completely shocked.


    No, not really.
    Consumers are not [the same as] citizens, and when a system pretends that they are, peculiar and even perverse things happen to decision making and democracy... - Benjamin Barber

  13. #513
    Lakewooder Lakewooder's Avatar
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    $60 million was almost the amount needed to complete Haskell Blvd. to Fair Park -- the council bailed, saying there was no money...

    Which would have done more good????

  14. #514
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    Didn't Rasansky say that each month we delay this project, the price tag goes up $10M?

    Please review my math:

    The new timeline is 15 months later than the last one. 15 month delay x $10M/month = $150M.
    New requirement for the "diaphragm wall" = $60M.

    Total increase = $210M


    All of which is to support the toll road... is this going to finally be the financial blow that knocks the road out of the park? I can't imagine NTTA, or any other agency, actually building a toll road that is this far in the red. It seems there are so many other roads they could build for a billion and change that would actually be profitable.

    I propose we build what we can with the bond money, do it NOW, negating some of the inflation prices on the park pieces. Then, we have NTTA expedite OTHER roads that are actually profitable to get their revenue streams online and re-evaluate our options... ones that are more economically feasible. This monster is out of control.

    Brian

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    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    Maybe it has been a ploy to give TxDOT to get the releiver route promise it ~needed~ in order to proceed with the Mixmaster segment of Project Pegasus. ProjPeg gets underway and passes the point of no return, NTTA says they cannot build the Trinity Tolled Parkway without more money from the city, the city cannot contribute more than was promised in the referendum, and then whatever.

  16. #516
    Skyscraper Member Spjz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LH_Newbie
    All of which is to support the toll road... is this going to finally be the financial blow that knocks the road out of the park? I can't imagine NTTA, or any other agency, actually building a toll road that is this far in the red. It seems there are so many other roads they could build for a billion and change that would actually be profitable.
    This road will put strategic concrete between the new Intermodal Logistics Hub and the DFW market. The ILH investors like Allen Group will buy the debt for the toll road and the bonds will be secured against the greater NTTA system. By the time this road is completed the NTTA will be collecting tolls on several regional highways to pay for the red.

    The only thing that will keep this road from being built will be local mayors, councilpersons and county commissioners putting pressure on the NTTA board. I doubt that this will happen. Dallas voters just endorsed a plan that will provide them with zilch traffic relief, imagine what a bunch of auto dependent CoCo residents will be fooled into supporting.

    Rasansky is lucky this is his final term. He is going to look like a horses ass when the final bill for this turkey comes in.

  17. #517
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mballar
    I don't think this has been posted, yet.

    http://www.myfoxdfw.com/myfox/pages/...tentId=4959738
    Leading up to the referendum vote, didnt the VoteNo campaign state that since sounds travels upward, the parkway's elevated position would reduce noise pollution? But now in this clip, Ignacio Bunster Ossa talks about design challenegs to depress the parkway though downtown to "so that a combination of landscapes and walls ... would abait the noise...."

    What a mess.

  18. #518
    Mega-Tall Skyscraper Member BigD5349's Avatar
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    I've been reading reports that toll revenues are declining across the country, as drivers adjust to soaring gas prices.

    Does anyone know if NTTA revenues are in decline as well? This region is still growing, but perhaps the per-capita use of toll roads will decline, at least until new technologies compensate for the higher gas prices. That may mean a few years of adjustment as technology catches up to the problem.

    I'm curious if this could be the additional straw on the camel's back that kills off the Trinity toll road. Bottom line costs are ballooning under the pressure of rising commodity prices and the ever-increasing complexity of the project. I'm curious if the project becomes untenable if the top line revenue projections are wavering as well. The revenue projections were already questioned by many. Prospective investors must be looking into this as we speak.

  19. #519
    Skyscraper Member Spjz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigD5349
    I'm curious if the project becomes untenable if the top line revenue projections are wavering as well. The revenue projections were already questioned by many. Prospective investors must be looking into this as we speak.
    I don't have time to look at all the old city hall pdf's and powerpoints, but I don't recall toll revenue ever being projected any higher than about 300 million - and that was when the construction costs were 1.2 billion. I don't think that feasibility will ever kill this toll road. It wasn't feasible then and it's not feasible now. It will only die by politics. If the money intended for the Trinity Parkway (FTA, TXDoT, other NTTA revenue) is desired by another special interest group that has more influence in Washington or Austin, then the road dies. But it doesn't take a vivid imagination to see a wad of cash being assembled by Dallas (city and county), the NTTA (mostly through revenues earned by the already-paid-for DNT), an FTA grant, an earmarked spending bill from congress, or some of the money from 121 or 161 to get this turkey built.

  20. #520
    Moderator jsoto3's Avatar
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    Proposed Trinity Park Tollway Design Guidelines

    Briefing to Trinity River Committee this Monday regarding the proposed Trinity Park Tollway design guidelines (too bad it is a low-quality scan):
    http://dallascityhall.com/committee_...nes_061008.pdf

    The proposed design is quite nice for a tollway (as would be expected from an internationally-renowned landscape and urban design firm). However, note that many of the critical design elements ("levee zone" landscaping, earth fill for planting over levees and its requisite concrete "tub", and some portions of the retaining/flood walls) are noted as requiring funding by the City for construction and maintainence. NTTA will only be responsible for the cost of constructing and maintaining the zone with the "parkway limits" (between the outer road shoulders).
    Last edited by jsoto3; 07 June 2008 at 04:54 PM.

  21. #521
    Administrator dfwcre8tive's Avatar
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    Trinity Parkway Design Guidelines
    http://dallascityhall.com/committee_...nes_061008.pdf

    I like the 'green walls' but not sure about the wind turbines. It's an interesting document. Attached are a few of the slides.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by dfwcre8tive; 10 June 2008 at 01:17 PM.

  22. #522
    Please Drive Normally. Random Traffic Guy's Avatar
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    Design guidelines quickies, seems they made the best of a bad deal:

    good:
    green walls
    grassy inside shoulders (until 3rd lanes built)
    "levee zone" park usable by people
    Bridge sections occupied only by Porshe vehicles and ninja pedestrians

    bad:
    walls, walls, everywhere a wall (or fence)
    holy $#!$ is the actual park area small on the downtown side, especially when you have water in the stormwater storage lagoons or algae ponds.
    "Deaths on the road are to today's criminal justice system what domestic violence was in the past: as natural & inevitable as the weather."
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  23. #523
    Skyscraper Member gshelton91's Avatar
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    /\ what gets me is how much of the toll way the city of Dallas is expected to pay for. The mayor said in the election that we gave them the land and some money and would not have to pay anything else. I guess that was just for the road it self. I wonder how well that vote would have gone if he had shown a road with only thing things that the Toll people were actually willing to pay for.

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    Reading from that link it is amazing athat everything nice is going ot be payed for and maintained by the city. So we may as well assume that is all going to be taken out. So it will be a pretty much just be a road and alot of walls.

  25. #525
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    Quote Originally Posted by gshelton91
    /\ what gets me is how much of the toll way the city of Dallas is expected to pay for. The mayor said in the election that we gave them the land and some money and would not have to pay anything else. I guess that was just for the road it self. I wonder how well that vote would have gone if he had shown a road with only thing things that the Toll people were actually willing to pay for.
    North Dallas already figured it out. They wanted a road paid for by someone else that could possibly reduce congestion. As for the other amenities paid for by the city, they collectively decided they had no use for them and knew the city could not pay for them. Consequently they voted No and carried the day with complete understanding of the situation.

  26. #526
    Skyscraper Member Spjz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjblazin
    North Dallas already figured it out. They wanted a road paid for by someone else that could possibly reduce congestion.
    It [the Trinity Parkway] will be paid for by raising the tolls to drive on the DNT. Whose gonna pay for it?

  27. #527
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjblazin
    North Dallas already figured it out.... Consequently they voted No and carried the day with complete understanding of the situation.
    They figured it out and voted in a situation delivering an improvement to the North Dallas quality of life which will last no more than 10 years. The tollway will provide another way to transect Central Dallas, but is not infrastructure which will improve living conditions in Central Dallas.

    The property value conscious folks living in North Dallas failed to recognize the superior long term situation; the better life is in Central Dallas, the more valuable becomes the nearby neighborhoods. I still think the Trinity River Park project will be a primary driver to improved living conditions in Dallas, but it would have been better without the tollway.

  28. #528
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spjz
    It [the Trinity Parkway] will be paid for by raising the tolls to drive on the DNT. Whose gonna pay for it?
    The congestion relief results from getting drivers off the roads that North Dallas drivers would use. Most North Dallas drivers looked at the map and likely concluded they would rarely use the tollway. But if it moves traffic off roads like I-30, I-35, and Central, and it's initially funded by NTTA and paid for with tolls on the other drivers, then it's a sweet deal.

  29. #529
    Administrator tamtagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by downtownguy25
    Reading from that link it is amazing athat everything nice is going ot be payed for and maintained by the city. So we may as well assume that is all going to be taken out. So it will be a pretty much just be a road and alot of walls.
    Maybe there is a way to expand funding for all the pretty-pretty to the county level, or maybe even get the NCTCOG to pay for it. The Dallas Citizens Council could host a black tie fundraiser. But one thing that should be kept to the forefront of political awareness is that voters were most definately led to believe the tollway would come with extensive appealing landscaping at no extra cost to residents of Dallas. In five years, when the road opens, and people are pissed because it's ugly to look at from the park, we cannot be in the exact same hole where one side says "That's not precisely what we said" and the other side comes out with a lawsuit or referendum or whatever to delay it again.

  30. #530
    Skyscraper Member Spjz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjblazin
    The congestion relief results from getting drivers off the roads that North Dallas drivers would use. Most North Dallas drivers looked at the map and likely concluded they would rarely use the tollway. But if it moves traffic off roads like I-30, I-35, and Central, and it's initially funded by NTTA and paid for with tolls on the other drivers, then it's a sweet deal.
    The Trinity Parkway will not be designed to get drivers off of those roads. It will be designed to carry freight traffic from the new Intermodal Logistics Hub in the Wilmer Hutchins area to points north of downtown. The TR Tollway will carry traffic to and from southeastern Dallas County. People who use Central, Stemmons, and the DNT neither live nor work in Southeast Dallas County, why would they pay to use this road?

    In reality, the people who pay tolls to drive on the ever-expanding DNT and the lucrative(?) TX-121 will pay for the TR Tollway that freight vehicles will be using.

  31. #531
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    I can't say the amount of the benefit, but I have to believe it would be at least some benefit. I can't completely disregard the evaluation of supporters that Tollway would help out in the mixmaster. The more important side of the equation is on the cost side. Even if it was just a small benefit, the comparison is against zero cost from the perspective of a North Dallas voter.

    I don't want to rehash the TRP debate. The question was would vote have been different. My opinion was no because the deciders in North Dallas already instinctively knew how it would play.

  32. #532
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    Quote Originally Posted by tamtagon
    In five years, when the road opens, and people are pissed because it's ugly to look at from the park, we cannot be in the exact same hole where one side says "That's not precisely what we said" and the other side comes out with a lawsuit or referendum or whatever to delay it again.
    Who's going to notice? It's not like anyone's going to be using the "park".

  33. #533
    The Urban Pragmatist Mballar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjblazin
    Even if it was just a small benefit, the comparison is against zero cost from the perspective of a North Dallas voter.
    Huh??? :2baffled: How can that be when tax money is going to partialy fund the Tollroad?
    A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something. - Plato

  34. #534
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hannibal Lecter
    Who's going to notice? It's not like anyone's going to be using the "park".
    Indeed, there will be no park - not even the current users will be using it

  35. #535
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    Quote Originally Posted by citizen
    Indeed, there will be no park - not even the current users will be using it
    Of course the current users will. It will still be the most convenient place to dump bodies. :-)

  36. #536
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mballar
    Huh??? :2baffled: How can that be when tax money is going to partialy fund the Tollroad?
    That money per Mayor et al was limited by the bond passed in 1998. The referendum was not going to lower the amount and the mayor promised he would not spend over that amount. Consequently both sides took that amount off the table and it became a non-factor.

    If the referendum would have lowered the amount or the mayor had been more open-ended on upside, then it would have been an issue, possibly the critical issue. But Ms. Reed knew exactly what the real vulnerability was and she had the mayor make that pledge.

  37. #537
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    Quote Originally Posted by downtownguy25
    Reading from that link it is amazing athat everything nice is going ot be payed for and maintained by the city. So we may as well assume that is all going to be taken out. So it will be a pretty much just be a road and alot of walls.
    You stay optimistic now.

  38. #538
    Mile-High Skyscraper Member rantanamo's Avatar
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    just build the damned thing............................or build the eastern extension of Bush Turnpike like they've promised for years.

  39. #539
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    Here is an idea and it would work for all highways. Sell the naming rights like we do for parks and buildings. Part of the deal that who every buys the naming rights must landscape and maintain all the landscaping and pick up trash. Something like this could work on 75 as well. Granted it might take a bit getting used to giving directions; take bank of american for 10 miles and then take a left on att and exit in 5 miles onto txu. But it could save the city and state alot of money and if the plants start to die the company would look bad.

  40. #540
    Super Moderator Tnekster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by downtownguy25
    Here is an idea and it would work for all highways. Sell the naming rights like we do for parks and buildings. Part of the deal that who every buys the naming rights must landscape and maintain all the landscaping and pick up trash. Something like this could work on 75 as well. Granted it might take a bit getting used to giving directions; take bank of american for 10 miles and then take a left on att and exit in 5 miles onto txu. But it could save the city and state alot of money and if the plants start to die the company would look bad.
    I remember making a similar suggestion about a year ago or so, still think it is a good idea. I would much prefer our highways being bought and cared for by Comerica or Exxon than naming them after politicians. Just my preference. Plus, after the fiasco with Central and the greenery being pulled out it makes more sense to let somebody else do it....that is if they could successfully get an Exxon or Comerica to actually do the deed. I don't know if they would really have any interest, except that it would be great for the corporate name and allow them to give back to the region.

  41. #541
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    Trinity Parkway toll road's design moves ahead, but questions remain

    11:37 PM CST on Friday, December 12, 2008

    By MICHAEL A. LINDENBERGER / The Dallas Morning News
    mlindenberger@dallasnews.com


    Development of the Trinity Parkway toll road remains on schedule, despite a series of new obstacles facing the North Texas Tollway Authority, toll officials and others said this week.

    NTTA is poised to award roughly $30 million in contracts next week to begin designing the 9-mile toll road and its route through the Trinity River Corridor.

    The preliminary design work should be completed by spring, and NTTA officials hope to have two key approvals for the project soon thereafter. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Highway Administration must approve the project, and both remain at least months away from doing so.

    Until those decisions are made in Washington, even the most basic facts about the Trinity Parkway remain all but impossible to state with certainty. How much will the road cost? What is the value of the toll revenue it will produce? Will it be completed by late 2013, as Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert has insisted?

    An even more fundamental question – who will build the road, once it is approved – has yet to be answered with certainty, as well. NTTA has been shepherding the project through its early phases for years, but its leadership repeated again this week that until it knows how much the road will cost, and how much revenue it can expect from tolls there, it cannot commit to building it.

    "This is not our project," NTTA board chairman Paul Wageman said. "Not officially, and not yet."

    If the road is finally approved by the federal government, and NTTA ends up, as expected, building it, it will almost certainly need considerable help from regional partners, NTTA leaders said this week.

    "We are not going to be able to build this by ourselves," said Janice Davis, NTTA's interim executive director.

    NTTA has always said it would need some help from the state or other players to build the road – help beyond the $84 million the city of Dallas has pledged to contribute. The Regional Transportation Council has held in reserve more than $200 million in state gas tax dollars to contribute, if necessary, once the project wins federal approvals.

    But whether those funds will be enough to cover the gap between what NTTA can afford to pay and what the project will cost is another question whose answer must wait until at least the middle of 2009.

    Mr. Wageman said the authority expects to use whatever it can borrow against the Trinity Parkway toll revenues, as well as millions more dollars secured against profits on its existing toll roads, to pay for the project. But with a rough price tag already set at $1.8 billion, Mr. Wageman said the project could cost even more than those totals could provide.

    If that has always been the case, it will only be more likely in 2009. Already, NTTA has revised its revenue forecast for 2009 downward by about $25 million to account for modest declines in traffic on its toll roads. If the economy slows in Texas, drivers may begin avoiding toll roads in greater numbers. Federal statistics released Friday show that American drivers continue to drive less and less each month.

    In addition, the municipal bond market has yet to fully recover from its collapse earlier this year, and many kinds of loans that were once available to NTTA no longer are – making financing for multi-billion-dollar public works projects more expensive, and in some cases impossible.

    Still, TxDOT officials said the situation is far from critical. If the NTTA needs money to finance the Trinity, then the state will do what it can to provide it.

    "This is the critical piece," said Bob Brown, TxDOT's deputy engineer in the Dallas District. "We'd find the money we need to get it built."

    NTTA is expected to take one of its most visible steps toward doing just that next week, when it awards the preliminary design contracts. That work is critical because the Army Corps of Engineers, which must agree that the toll road won't impact its flood control efforts, has said it won't make a decision until engineers design at least 30 percent of the project.

    The contracts probably would have been awarded last month, but questions raised by Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price over NTTA's commitment to use black subcontractors prompted the authority to review its procedures.

    "I don't want to hold it up. I know the mayor wants to move forward. But what do we do?" Mr. Price asked. "We always hear the same such nonsense. 'We're working on deadline. We'll do it next time.' It's always a deadline when it comes to us."

    NTTA says it took a month to review its bidding procedures and is comfortable with the way the design contracts have been handled.

    Mr. Price has promised to keep watching as contracts for the rest of the work, some worth hundreds of millions of dollars, come on line.

    --------------------------------------------------------------

    WTF!?! This is completely different than what Leppert represented.

    • Absolutely no commitment from NTTA.
    • $200 million diverted from other regional transit projects.
    • $500 million increase in total project cost.
    • TxDOT says they would try to make up the difference... but how.... they just ripped out the landscaping on Central, saying they were basically broke and couldn't afford the cost of watering.
    Last edited by UptownDallas; 13 December 2008 at 02:46 PM.

  42. #542
    High-Rise Member eirin's Avatar
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    Don't be surprised if it ends up costing 3 billion. This project is ridiculous. That money could be use for much more useful things, but that isn't how things work. It makes too much sense to maintain old roads than to neglect those and build a new one not 200 yards away.
    Socialism - bringing a greater good to a greater many, one golden parachute at a time.

  43. #543
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    I don't know why anyone is surprised by this. It was perfectly obvious during the election that Leppert was making promises that he couldn't possibly keep. People just chose to believe what they wanted. I mean, it's the same story for any large public works project. They almost always cost more than estimated and take longer. Let's just wait to see how all of this shakes out before we start freaking out.

  44. #544
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    Quote Originally Posted by ksig121
    It was perfectly obvious during the election that Leppert was making promises that he couldn't possibly keep. People just chose to believe what they wanted.
    And let's not forget that the $84M all comes back to the city, as TLep promised.

  45. #545
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    Some toll road news today:

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont....700c317e.html

    NTTA has long promised to push forward the road, but has stopped short of committing to build it, noting that the estimated price tag of $1.8 billion could easily rise, depending on when, and whether, the federal government approves its course through the levees.
    This is the first time I've heard the 1.8 billion figure. 1.4 billion was the final number that the Mayor tossed around during the referendum. I wonder who he thinks is going to pay for the extra 400 million, let alone any short falls that existed before now?

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont...t.3bfbb9e.html

    Any lingering doubt that some lawmakers remain furious over Gov. Rick Perry's push in recent years for private toll roads disappeared Tuesday when a state board voted to abolish the Texas Transportation Commission.

    The five-member commission serves as the face of the Department of Transportation, and in voting to replace it with a new, single commissioner far more closely monitored by the Legislature, lawmakers hoped to underscore just how frustrated they are with the sprawling agency.
    A Texas Governor has great influence in two areas: prisons and highways. Perry's approach to highways has been to borrow money and pay it back later plus interest. The legislature has put up only token opposition until now. Hopefully, if this change is implemented, they will use this new power rather than deferring to Perry and his TXDoT lackeys.

    I've heard rumblings of raising the gas tax during this next session. It's long over due. We are paying more money for the same roads because we are allowing too much borrowing and not enough "pay as you go."

    What does any of this have to do with the Trinity Toll Road? The TTR represents the worst qualities of toll roads and none of the good qualities. It doesn't pay for itself; it diverts revenue from more lucrative roads instead of lowering their respective tolls and paying of the debt faster. If this road were truly necessary, like 121 is, it would pay for itself. The reasons why it won't pay for itself is because it won't generate enough traffic to justify it's existence. Hopefully the new (if the legislature acts) TXDoT head will not allow a bad idea such as this one to come to fruition. But, as we've all seen before, just because an idea is bad, doesn't mean it won't be acted on.

  46. #546
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    The legislature is going to raise the gas tax in the middle of a recession with 2010 an election year? Right. As for frustration in the legislature: if they wanted to fund the roads with higher taxes in lieu of bonds/tolls, the legislators could pass their bill. But they wanted the exec side to carry the ball and twist their arms for higher taxes to fund the needed roads. Perry found an alternate solution.
    I imagine gutless people frequently feel frustrated. If you want something, fight for it and put your behind and other pieces of your anatomy on the line. Otherwise, keep quiet.

  47. #547
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjblazin
    The legislature is going to raise the gas tax in the middle of a recession with 2010 an election year? Right.
    It's a better solution than tolling. In the case of Dallas' CC Hotel, bondholders have access to property tax revenue if the hotel fails. In the case of the NTTA you've got only one source of revenue to pay off bond debt, tolls. When you consider the effects that the Texas Mobility Fund (the fund that diverts a portion of the upfront payments on toll contracts to a fund in Austin where it's dispersed to TXDoT and local governments) and projects like the Trinity Toll Road have on the NTTA's credit, the Leg and TXDoT have no choice. Basically, we're trying to fit as much of our transportation improvements as we can behind the credit of the NTTA.

    From what I've read, the Leg is going to index the current gas tax to match inflation since the last time it was raised. Not only is there support behind it, but Perry has said that he will not interfere. But you are right, we've had two approaches to our road problem: Perry's bad approach and the Leg's lack of any approach whatsoever.

  48. #548
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    I'll believe it when I see it. Of course Governor Perry won't fight it. He won't need to fight it. If he does not want his signature on a tax increase (in a brutal primary battle with Kay Bailey - pleaaaase), he can just veto it. In the meantime, the solons will be providing plenty of sound clips for opponents the following year. I can already see the ads. One positive could be probably winning some kind of Green award for hiking gas taxes in a recession. Picking up the award the following year will not be a problem since the recipients will be former government servants.

  49. #549
    Mega-Tall Skyscraper Member AeroD's Avatar
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    Tighten the female dog!

  50. #550
    Mega-Tall Skyscraper Member AeroD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjblazin
    If he does not want his signature on a tax increase (in a brutal primary battle with Kay Bailey - pleaaaase), he can just veto it.
    See margins tax.
    Tighten the female dog!

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