The Dallas Morning News story about the Trinity toll road referendum campaign finance reports, which was buried yesterday inside the Metro section, did a fine job of not telling anybody anything.
Late in the day Tuesday, long after The News had published its story, the City Secretary finally put the list of contributors for Vote No! Save the Trinity (the people in favor of a toll road between the flood-control levees inside the planned river park downtown) up on the city Web site. (TrinityVote's latest finance report is available here.) The big red flag for me on the Vote No! report was $50,000 from Allen Development of Texas.
Think trucks! Lots and lots of trucks. A major truck route through the park.
Allen, with regional offices on Ross Avenue, is the San Diego-based company at the center of plans for the so-called “inland port” in Southern Dallas -- a huge rail yard and truck depot I’ve written about before. The inland port is a huge opportunity for southern Dallas. And I don’t blame Allen for wanting every way it can find to get its trucks across the DFW and on to Canada.
But sending a solid stream of NAFTA trucks out of the inland port and right through the park downtown would be disastrous for the park.
It’s something I have worried about for more than five years, ever since I had lunch with David Dean, the lobbyist and person most responsible for the inland port plan. Dean took a paper napkin and sketched for me a wonderful truck route from southeast Dallas County up to Alliance Airport, owned by the Perots. Right along the river.
I thought, “Yikes. That’s that damned toll road.”
I can’t claim now, this many years later, that Dean’s daydream was directly tied to the toll road today. But the appearance of the Allen group as major funders of the pro-toll road campaign does scare the socks off me.
For years the backers of the toll road promised that no truck traffic would be allowed. Then one of the e-mails Angela Hunt dug up between Laura Miller and her vaunted “Balanced Vision Plan” consultants revealed that they were extremely suspicious. They thought they saw extra pavement being designed into the thing that could only mean it was being built for trucks.
Now in debates the pro-toll-roaders are admitting openly that there will be trucks. Sort of like, “Sure, trucks. Of course there will be trucks. Why wouldn’t there be trucks?”
Uh, why wouldn’t there be? Because you promised for seven years there would be no trucks.
Now here comes Allen group with its 18-wheeler checkbook. If that’s what’s going on, all of the stories about reducing pollution and providing traffic relief are one big, fat lie. It means they plan to do the exact contrary with this sucker. Load it up with trucks, smoke the lungs off downtown.
The other really slimy thing in the Vote N0! report is the $200,000 in contributions from the Dallas Citizens Council. The Dallas Citizens Council meets in secret. It’s a money funnel for big-bucks players who want to operate behind drawn window shades. Sort of like a Sicilian “athletic club” in the Bronx.
I keep trying to imagine my picnic in the park next to the NAFTA truck route.
“MAY I HAVE THE KETCHUP PLEASE.”
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“FORGET IT. LET’S PUT ON OUR HAZMAT SUITS AND INFLATE THE SAILBOAT.”
“HIT THE DIRT! TRUCK TREAD INCOMING!”
At that point I think I’ll just stand there like a man and let it hit me. --Jim Schutze