Call it a small, mostly symbolic victory for the anti-toll road bunch.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the Dallas City Council unanimously approved a half-measure drafted by freshman council member Adam McGough that keeps the bond money already raised for the city of Dallas Trinity project — some $47.7 million — from being spent on any road bigger than four lanes.
McGough developed the compromise after five council members led by anti-tollroaders Philip Kingston and Scott Griggs got an item placed on Wednesday's agenda that would've dedicated all the remaining money from the 1998 bond election that initially funded the Trinity project to flood control. McGough's plan merely makes flood control and parks a priority. Money from the bonds can still be spent on a four-lane road.
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Wednesday morning, Kingston said the deal wasn't the favorite of either side in the toll road debate, indicating it was a good compromise. Lee Kleinman, part of the pro-toll road group that includes Mayor Mike Rawlings, was initially concerned that cutting funds from any potential big honking version of the toll road would screw up the federal approvals already secured by the city. Eventually, after the vote on restricting the use of the money was rescheduled until the afternoon, Kleinman voted for the compromise. City staff had by then assured him and other road-supporters such as Rickey Callahan and Jennifer Gates that the McGough deal would not affect the approvals.
Callahan went so far as to say that he viewed the vote as a mandate for the road, saying that he was happy that the council has seemingly acknowledged the necessity of a thoroughfare between the levees.
For those against the road, the federal approval's remaining intact is worrisome. The $47.7 million is just a drop in the bucket compared with the estimated $1.8 billion price tag for the big, honking toll road the mayor and pro-road faction want. Money is going to have to be raised elsewhere anyway, so the tollway is at best only lightly wounded by the vote Wednesday. Not dead. Never dead.