Monday, April 30, 2007

Latest plans call for a new kind of greenspace : Six lane toll road will now cut through proposed park and Trinity River floodplain

Group petitions Trinity corridor toll road

April 30, 2007

The Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2007

An organization aiming to block construction of a planned toll road inside the Trinity River Corridor’s levee walls filed paperwork Monday allowing members to begin a petition drive, which if successful, would lead to a citywide referendum on whether to move the road somewhere outside of the corridor.

Known as TrinityVote and led by Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt, the group now has 60 days to collect valid signatures from 10 percent of all registered Dallas voters – an estimated 50,000 to 55,000 signatures -- in order to trigger a referendum, which would be conducted in November.

Dallas Assistant City Secretary Rosa Rios says her office, which accepted TrinityVote's paperwork, is working to calculate an exact signature figure and should know soon.

Nonetheless, the group will begin collecting signatures immediately, although it’ll make its strongest push on Election Day, May 12, with volunteers blanketing polling areas, Ms. Hunt said. If TrinityVote fails to collect enough signatures within 60 days to prompt a referendum, it must start again from scratch during another 60-day collection period – if it chose to try again.

“We feel we’ll have enough folks to collect the signatures we need to collect,” Ms. Hunt said.
“We’re planning on using all of our 60 days, but hope to be done sooner.”

Ms. Hunt launched the drive because she says the planned, six-lane toll road would compromise the estimated $1.2 billion Trinity River Corridor project’s park and greenspace amenities. She also says the toll road would be prone to flooding.

TrinityVote has not recommended where to build the road, if not within the corridor’s levee walls. Project engineering plans provide for toll road alignments outside the levee walls, but city officials have largely rejected those plans, which are estimated to cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than an inside-the-levees alignment.

In recent weeks, most of Ms. Hunt’s City Council colleagues, as well as Mayor Laura Miller and former Mayor Ron Kirk, have publicly opposed Ms. Hunt’s effort. The Stemmons Corridor Business Association, meanwhile, last week initiated an effort of it’s own effort, dubbed, “Sink the Petition – Save the Trinity.”

"We believe the city and its partners, world-class planners and the public at large have studied the road alternatives and have agreed to a parkway that will relieve traffic congestion, help with air quality and be compatible with the Trinity parks,” chairman John Allums said at the time.

City Council member Ed Oakley, who is chairman of the council’s Trinity River Corridor Committee, said Monday morning that Ms. Hunt’s petition drive is counterproductive and, if successful, could lead to significant corridor project delays. “The petition is a misguided and misleading idea. The Dallas voters approved the project in 1998," said former Dallas City Council member Alan Walne, chairman of the Sink the Petition -- Save the Trinity campaign. "Great effort, care and compromise have yielded the best plan for the Trinity. We don’t need to lose momentum, delay the project or destroy it.”

© 2007 The Dallas Morning News Co

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