After reading Friday's story in The Dallas Morning News regarding the nearly $1 billion funding gap for the Trinity Turnpike, Angela Hunt decided she would spend this week developing a strategy to address the approximately $64 million remaining of the city's $84 million contribution to the project. She's unsure whether a briefing to the full council or Trinity River Corridor Project Committee will ultimately be included her recommendation.
"It's only prudent for us to step back and reevaluate because this is $84 million of taxpayers' funds that we very well may be dropping down a rabbit hole," Hunt tells Unfair Park. "We continue to throw millions and millions of dollars at this, and it's becoming more apparent to everyone that the funding for this toll road doesn't exist."
Hunt listened to the audio we provided of Mayor Tom Leppert promising in October 2007 that the North Texas Tollway Authority would be contributing $1 billion to the project, and she says it wasn't news to her, as Leppert made the same claim at several debates throughout the campaign.
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She doesn't know the motivation by The News, but stresses that it is reporting a fact that was known before the '07 referendum. "We who were supportive of moving the toll road from the park knew that there was an enormous spending gap as you reported before the election, so this didn't come as a shock to any of us," Hunt says.
Hunt also criticizes the paper for not following up with Mayor Leppert regarding his statement that buckets of funds were available to close the funding gap, such as what the buckets are and how much money the buckets carry.
"Those questions weren't asked by The Dallas Morning News, and if they were, they certainly didn't report that the mayor refused to answer those very simple questions," she says. "The Dallas Morning News should have followed up with those questions, and it was a glaring omission."
We actually posed those questions to the mayor Friday and received no response. "This is the same type of obfuscation that we've dealt with this mayor for months not only during the toll road referendum but now during the convention center hotel," Hunt says. "It's so frustrating."