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Because Dumb Ideas Are Still Dumb, Even After You Voted For 'Em

During the Trinity River toll road debate -- which is to say, prior to the election in which a majority of Dallas voters voted the wrong way -- various bloggers, pundits and kiester-faces around town mentioned Storrow Drive in Boston as an example of a multi-lane road that coexists peacefully with a park. That may have had some to do with the fact that Alex Krieger of Harvard, the architect who helped dream up Dallas’s Unbalanced Vision Plan for the Trinity River, often cited Storrow as proof that a road through a park ain’t no skin off nobody’s big nose.

Of course, The Dallas Morning News’ own architecture critic, David Dillon, had already shot down that notion years ago when he wrote: “In his public presentations, Mr. Krieger, a Harvard University urban designer, often referred to Memorial and Storrow drives in Boston and Cambridge, Mass., to show how roads and rivers can coexist. Yet there are no levees on the Charles River. Moreover, Memorial Drive is a four-lane road that can be crossed, cautiously, on foot, while Storrow Drive is a four- to six-lane, divided roadway crossable mainly by overhead bridges. It effectively severs Back Bay from the Charles River; the fact that so many Bostonians end up there anyway is a tribute to their determination, or desperation, rather than enlightened urban design.”

But who remembers anything, even stuff printed in their own newspaper? News editorial page honcha Keven Ann Willey suggested on her blog in August that there are lots of good examples of great highways through parks and asked: “I'm not sure, but does anybody out there think that Stover (Storrer?) Drive in Boston qualifies? Somebody else mentioned Seattle to me. I'm thinking of the elevated highway and (of course!) the wonderful Pike Place Market.” She only got one comment on that one, from a person who told her how to spell it. A good beginning.

Anyway, a reader called my attention today to a debate going on in Boston over closing the westbound lanes of Storrow Drive on weekends so people can jog and enjoy the park without fear of instant mushification. The Boston Globe thinks it’s a great idea.

The Globe says James Jackson Storrow, a champion of city parks, “would have been appalled that the state put his name on Storrow Drive, which slashed through the park in 1951.”

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Let’s see: Why don’t we take some of the dumbest ideas ever adopted by older cities in the Northeast -- things they are now trying to figure their way out of -- and re-invent them in Dallas as our own bright idea? Like putting highway through a park!

Oh, but I forgot. The people has spoke.

City Plan Commissioner Neal Emmons told me last week I needed to try not to sound so much like a bitter loser. So I should sound like what? A merry loser? We could make it a musical. I can see the posters: “Jim Schutze sparkles in The Merry Loser!”

Give me bitter. I like it better. --Jim Schutze

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