Theme of Today's Trinity Corridor Project Meeting: "Where's the Money Coming From?"

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Yesterday, we sneak-peeked a couple of the big-ticket items on the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee's agenda. Question is: How'd they sit with council members? First up, let's visit that Belleview Connector, the estimated $9.5- to $11-million hike-n-bike bridge described by HALFF Associates designer Francois de Kock this morning as a "dramatic icon" and a "destination."

If and when it's ever built, the bridge should provide sweeping views of downtown, the Cedars and West Dallas. But de Kock told the council the bridge will be a destination in its own right just due to the "sheer quality of its design." 

At which point, Ann Margolin asked the same question posted by the Friends of Unfair Park: "So, where's the money coming from?" (It was her refrain for the day, as you'll soon find out.)

"I question the need for another iconic bridge," she said, conceding that while the design may be beautiful, she's troubled by the idea that a cash-strapped city would be footing even part of the bill (which Dallas already has for the design). Margolin was told by Trinity Project officials that they're looking at future bond projects for funding. And, fingers crossed, adjacent property owners may also contribute.

The council also talked about that Riverfront Boulevard redo.

Alan Hendrix, assistant director of Public Works, presented five options (see slide 23) for Riverfront Boulevard, covering that stretch from Cadiz Street to Continental Avenue. They range from practical and affordable (keep and fix what's already there) to the more extravagant and pricey (six to eight lanes for vehicular traffic, plus one to two bike lanes).

(Incidentally, far as Patrick "Car-Free" Kennedy's concerned, none of them are worth much of a damn: "Where is a pedestrian to go? Spin around in circles? Do laps around the jail? Where are they to come from? Helicopter in? A new stealth blackhawk in every garage perhaps?")

Margolin wondered "whether eight lanes would be needed for added development ... when we really don't see any development on the horizon." She requested a project configuration "that stays within budget."

The eight-lane option currently has a $13.9 million shortfall; the six-lane option is around $1.4 million short.

Linda Koop asked for an explanation of traffic projections in the area in order to gauge which option would be most practical. Vonciel Jones Hill added that she was concerned about funding for the project, whose costs are shared by the city and county.

One slide in the presentation (at left), an orange area adjacent to the Dallas County Jail represents potential new development. Hill said she "can't fathom" what developers could do with that land. Steve Salazar, the outgoing council member currently serving as the committee's vice-chair, insisted that the parks and amenities planned around the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge would "dwarf what the jail is."

In other words, "If you build it, they will come," though the if, it, who and when will only become clear in the next several years. Much of the orange land was recently purchased by local developers. 

The Riverfront Boulevard item was tabled until next month's meeting, when more specific contextual information about funding and traffic will be presented.

Also on the agenda: the Coombs Creek Trail extension. Again, Margolin asked, "What is the source of funding for this?" She added, "And the reason this is coming to our attention now is what?" 

To which Hendrix responded that the purpose was simply to "begin the education process". The thing isn't funded. Which never stopped the city of Dallas.

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