Dallas is a weird little speed-trap town in its own way. I often wonder what visitors think. What they need to think is, "I've got to be really careful and keep my mouth shut until I get out of this burg safely."
These musings come to me after reading a dire little piece in today's daily newspaper by Dallas Morning News transportation writer Michael Lindenberger. It's a very dialed-back version of an even more breathless screed he posted yesterday on the News' transportation blog. And by the way, who even has a "transportation blog?"
On the transportation blog, which I think is actually very popular among Dallas transportation-heads, Lindenberger warned of very dire consequences that may ensue for Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings for even listening to certain Dallas City Council members (Scott Griggs, Sandy Greyson, Angela Hunt) who have raised certain very provocative and potentially dangerous questions about certain things:
It's potentially crippling to Hunt and Griggs and Greyson," Lindenberger writes. "While there are risks to Rawlings if he mishandles this, the stakes are no less severe for Angela Hunt, Scott Griggs and Sandy Greyson ...
So let's say you're from out of town. Or you're not a transportation-head. You just sort of climb aboard various modes of transport and use them to go places. You don't really keep up with the gossip. And you read this. What sort of horrible questions do you suppose the council members posed to the mayor? Was it about the virgin birth? Please don't tell me they're trying to defend man-boy love. I hope it wasn't something like, "Just look the other way for 10 minutes, Mike, and we can all be rich for life."
No. None of the above. It's way more Dallas-weird than that. The council members presented the mayor with numbers they got from state highway officials showing that the proposed new highway the Dallas elite wants to build out in the flood zone along the Trinity River is the most expensive least efficient option for reducing traffic congestion downtown. And the mayor wants to check those numbers for himself with the highway department.
This question, by the way -- whether a new toll road in the flood zone will accommodate more or fewer vehicle trips than other proposed improvements to already existing freeways -- ignores what most people would consider much sexier issues, like isn't it true that no matter many people drive down the new road in the flood zone -- a whole bunch or just a few -- they're all going to die? It would be built, after all, in the flood zone.
Oh, no. That's boring. We don't even talk about stuff like that in Dallas. We just want to know about the vehicle-mile projections as a ratio of construction costs. We're like a strange race of people on a space station in a Star Trek episode, the Minutiaborgs, with bright red ears and eyeballs on the sides of our heads, unable to see what's right in front of us because we're so focused on side issues.
And, oh my God, just think of it. What if the three members of the Minutiaborg council turn out to have misinterpreted the state's traffic projection data for the Great Minutiaborg Holy Highway that the Minutia Elders have decreed? Obviously they will have to be fed into a tree chipper.
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I'm just saying, you'd think that stupid toll road they want to build out there in the underwater zone was something they had found in the Bible. How sacrosanct can one highway be?
I know other places have deals like this. Boston had the "Big Dig," and so on. But I don't believe public works projects take on this kind of religious fervor elsewhere. Only in Dallas could raising questions about traffic projections be considered a mortal risk.
Next week's headline: Council trio struck down by lightning on City Hall steps after raising questions about Ray Hunt.
See. You strangers don't even know who Ray Hunt is, do you? Give up. You'll never understand us. Just try to get in and out of town without saying anything negative about the Trinity River toll road. We'd hate to see you have to call home for bail money, not to mention getting fed into a tree chipper.