It's not about the road. It's about the park.
So says the American Institute of Architects Dallas chapter, which released a statement Wednesday condemning the long-planned, under-funded Trinity toll road.
AIA Dallas supports a great Trinity Park as essential to the future health and prosperity of Dallas. Any highway similar to the Trinity Toll Road will divide our city and destroy the park's unique potential and its recreational, economic, and environmental benefits. We oppose the Trinity Toll Road; it is an outdated approach from the past and will not solve the current or future mobility needs of our region.
AIA Dallas President Bob Bullis says that over the past nine months his organization has worked on developing a position on the toll road. A recent meeting with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings was "informative and helpful in identifying what that position might be."
"This is really about the park. You know, we're against the highway, but we're really for a park," Bullis says. "There's been a lot of hysteria lately, a lot of discussion about 'we're against the tollway.' We want to be for the park. We don't think there's enough conversation about what the opportunities for the park will be. We're being very clear. We're for a park. We're against a highway. It's really about return on investment. The return on investment is huge and we think the highway is going to undermine the chance for the park to be successful."
Bullis says the AIA is also worried about the potential havoc the toll road would wreak on the Continental Bridge deck park.
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"Early on, back in the late summer, when we were looking at the plans, it was pretty clear to us that there was this overlap between the pedestrian portion of the park on the east levee and this [toll road off-ramp]. We scratched our heads for a long time about how those two could coexist and we're still scratching our heads. We think it's a terrible idea," Bullis says.
One of the biggest problems with the toll road is the way information about it has been presented to the public, AIA Dallas Executive Director Jan Blackmon says.
"We as an organization were getting very concerned that the drawings that have gone out are not understood well enough by the public in terms of what [the toll road] is going to do to the Continental Bridge; the height and width of the ramps and the roadways, their intrusion into the park. There was even that controversy about whether it's even going to impact the Continental Bridge when the drawings show that it does," Blackmon says.
Bullis and Blackmon say that AIA Dallas intends to publish a full FAQ on their group's position on the tollway tomorrow.