Finally, We Nail the Real Reason Dallas Needs That Trinity Toll Road

OK, look, just see if you can follow me here, because I need to know if I am following myself. You tell me.

Michael Morris, a regional transportation official who gets quoted, has always said we need to build a new super-highway along the Trinity River, walling it off from downtown, because the new highway will serve as a "reliever route" while the main expressways through downtown are being rebuilt.

Never mind that contractors rebuilt the entire "High Five" interchange at LBJ and Central Expressway without building a new expressway somewhere else as a detour. Never mind that they are now rebuilding North LBJ itself without building a new expressway somewhere else as a detour.

Morris said we have to build the toll road along the Trinity as a detour, or the state will never rebuild the main expressways through downtown. They'll pull their money. That was the whole "Don't Let Angela Hunt Send a Billion Dollars Down the River" thing in the 2007 referendum that approved the toll road over Hunt's and others' objections.

Now the rebuilding of the main expressways through downtown, called "Project Pegasus," is kaput. Why? No money. Turns out the state didn't have the billion dollars in the first place.

The total cost for Pegasus was going to be $2 billion. The state had only $1 billion. They're a billion short. So they're doing half of the project.

State highway officials have said they don't need the toll road in place to do the half-project. They have changed the name from Pegasus to Horseshoe. At least they didn't change it to Flying Horse Turd (Watch out!!!). Anyway. Sorry. I'm going to try to do better on that stuff. Never grew up. Sorry.

So here's the bend in the road that I'm not sure I can see around. We're short a billion dollars of what it would take to rebuild all the major highways through downtown. We are also short at least a billion dollars of what it would take to build the "reliever route."

In a recent article in The Dallas Morning News, Morris said building the reliever route is all the more important now because we're not getting the total rebuild. He told the News: "The Trinity is more important to us given the fact that the Pegasus project is being pushed out into the future."

Wait. Wait. Help me here.

We're short a billion to do the second half of the main thing. We're short a billion to do the detour thing. If we had a billion, why wouldn't we spend it doing the main thing?

It's just the second half of the main thing. They've already shown they can do the first half of the main thing without building an entire new expressway as a detour. So why would we take our billion and build a detour that they don't need for the second half, and use all our money, and then we would have no money left for the rest of the main thing?

OK. OK. This sounds stupid, I know. You're thinking, "There's a reason, Schutze. Nobody is that stupid. They have a reason. You're either more stupider than they are and you don't know the reason, or you do know the reason and you're not telling us, so you're a turd."

I do know the reason. I do. And I will tell it.

They are that stupid. That's it. I swear. That's the answer. Don't try to make it more complicated. It's just that simple. The people behind the Trinity River toll road are idiots.

Not Morris. He's smart. But he works for the idiots. He comes up with this Professor Doubletalk crap because that's what they pay him for.

The basic underlying idea, to build a tolled expressway along the Trinity River, continues to rear its ugly head in spite of all contradictory fact and reality, even though the public arguments for it flip inside out and upside down over the years, because the Trinity River toll road is the obsession of the city's old not-very-bright-ocracy. The too-many-toddies set. The please-sir-this-is-not-the-bathroom set.

They're just that stupid. The toll road is just that stupid. End of story.

You still with me?

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze