Thursday, August 09, 2007

Hunt: "They're going to say whatever they need to say to make it clear that without the toll road, the world will end."

Tell the Truthiness

August 9, 2007

By Patrick Williams
The Dallas Observer
Copyright 2007

Tell the truthiness: Is a high-speed toll road along the Trinity River a good idea? Would it help relieve traffic congestion downtown? Is the road the best use of resources?

Those are good questions to which Buzz has no answers, but we do know one thing: Some of the favorite arguments made by pro-road folk are awfully dumb. Some of the others are vaguely dishonest or, as Steven Colbert would say, "truthy."

Let's dispense with the dumber ones: First, there's the "Mom, I'm bored" argument favored by Dallas Morning News bloviators, as in, "We approved it nearly 10 years ago. C'mon, let's just build it already." There's only one reasonable response to that stinker, one perfected by Buzz's mother: a sharp left hook to the temple. But then there's also the "You knew what you were getting when you voted for the Trinity project 10 years ago, so there" argument. That one's easily handled with one of two responses: "No, we didn't" and "So what?"

But if the dumb arguments won't work, the pro-road folks can—and will—fall back on truthiness to win come November toll-road vote. For example, some pro-roadies are already suggesting that voting against the toll road this November would be a major setback to the artsy Santiago Calatrava-designed replacement bridge at Woodall Rodgers. Others suggest that without the toll road to relieve traffic, the snarled downtown mixmaster at Interstate 35/I-30 can never, ever be fixed. "It's all part of a puzzle," they say.

Buzz put a call in Monday to the Texas Department of Transportation to see how much truth there was in those arguments. Coincidentally, city council member Angela Hunt, leader of the no-toll-road folk, was asking some of the same questions. TxDOT shared her answers with Buzz.

Hunt asked what taking the toll road out of the levees would do to the bridge. The short answer: Nothing, a TxDOT engineer replied. She also asked what effect potentially putting the traffic "reliever" road down Industrial Boulevard, instead of along the river, would have on Project Pegasus, TxDOT's plan to fix the nearby mixmaster. Some designs would likely have to be altered, but those Aggie highway engineers are pretty smart, and construction on Project Pegasus is a ways off yet, so that might not be that bad.

Says Hunt of the pro-road guys: "They're going to say whatever they need to say to make it clear that without the toll road, the world will end."

Here's hoping that at least some of what they say is true, not truthy.

(To see TxDOT's full e-mail response to Hunt's questions, check out the Dallas Observer's blog here.)

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