One thing is clear after Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings' 15-minute speech Wednesday at a Trinity Groves breakfast: It can't possibly be about what he said it was about. There is no way that after all the time, all the "balloon juice," that's been expelled over the issue, that he can possibly be befuddled over what the road will look like or how he feels about it.
"I don't understand how a guy can be the mayor of Dallas and say that he's confused about this project. I don't think that's acceptable," says Philip Kingston, Dallas City Council member and curator of theTrinity Toll Road Naughty and Nice List
Rawlings said at the breakfast that no one could judge the toll road because it hasn't been built yet. Those fearful of a potential six-lane freeway between the levies being built rather than the compromise, four-lane, meandering parkway are getting ahead of themselves.
"[That] truly boggles my mind because no one has seen it," he said.
Beyond the obvious -- that human beings can envision something that's been described to them based on previous experiences -- Kingston says we have, in fact, seen it.
"There are schematics that have been submitted to the federal government for approval. There are rendering from the [North Texas Tollway Authority]'s own designer that were presented to the Trinity River and transportation committee in April. They're still up on the city's website. To say that we don't know what this road looks like is simply false," he says.
Alternative 3C is the plan for the road diagrammed on page 35 and 36 of this linked presentation. Kingston says that it's the only version of the toll road that can possibly be built, something that's been known for years.
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"The mayor kept saying we don't know what the road looks like. That is infuriating. It's an absolute fraud," he said.
Rawlings' naming a crew to re-examine the toll road is not, as D Magazine's Tim Rogers suggested, about giving the mayor and 2015 City Council candidates an escape hatch from the Trinity Toll Road boondoggle. If the mayor's dream team of designers comes up with a road that can't be built -- too slow, too expensive, no tolls -- then no one can blame a candidate for not supporting the road, Rogers said. Kingston said Rudy Bush at The Dallas Morning News nailed the real, more cynical meaning. Council candidates who are counting on support from the ever-shrinking but influential band of toll-road supporters can tell road opponents -- i.e. most people -- that they don't support the road per se.
"They won't have to say, 'I'm for the road.' They can say,'I'm for the mayor's process,'" Kingston says.
And that process is aimed directly at building a six-lane toll road. We're pretty sure that's the plan, Mr. Mayor. City Hall -- the place where your office is -- told us so.