City Hall

Well, We Were Going to Talk About Complete Streets. But Then the Council Ran Out of Road.

The council's Transportation and Environment Committee kicked off its 1 p.m. meeting with a review of the LBJ Express project, with TxDOT and Trinity Infrastructure reps telling council members: "There is possibility you will receive complaints about noise" related to construction, but, hey, they're moving as fast as they can -- and they're retooling those sound walls where need be, making some taller than 12 feet. A few other items of note: The pedestrian walkway wasn't torn down as scheduled because upon further review, the demo crews realized there "was a better way to do this that was much safer for the general public"; utility relocation will be the hardest part of the project, given there are some 350 conflicts; and TxDOT has signed off on the 635-Dallas North Tollway exchange.

Council asked a few questions, about noise and dust and clearing wrecks during construction and how lousy access is to the Galleria. "That connection right now is not all that great," said Linda Koop, referring to the "visioning" for that "quadrant" involving Valley View Center. She was told the LBJ Express-ers would look at "recommendations" to fix 'er up. We'll see. But this mammoth project -- which is being funded by private companies and the feds and the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System, among others -- is way out of the city council's hands.

Can't say the same about your neighborhood street. Which brings us to one of the council's favorite subjects: Complete Streets, which has been on the to-do list since October of '09. And which the TEC was supposed to discuss today ...

A few times in recent months we've spoken with Peer Chacko, second-in-command in Sustainable Development and Construction, about how and when the city intends to roll out that Complete Streets manual, which we ought to see some time in the spring. But as Chacko's reminded -- when we discussed that Better Ross Avenue and that ongoing photo contest -- before they wrap writing the manual the city wants to do more pilot design projects a la Ross Ave. Among the possible places we've discussed in the past: Lower Greenville, the Park Lane station, near Fair Park. The list you see above has 14 potential sites, all subject to change pending public input -- the council's too.

Funny thing is: After a long, delayed talk about parts per million, the council ran out of time to hold its briefing on Complete Streets.

Theresa O'Donnell, head of Sustainable Development, had just enough time to tell the council that she and Chacko have been meeting with council members to talk about where to plant to those pilots. At which point she quickly introduced Chacko and flashed the map, which, she explained, was put together with some council members' input but is by no means complete.

Or funded. At all.

"What Peer's project does is identify streets where we think residents will be interested," she said. "Some we hope won't be too complicated." And others, she said, will be "limited," fingers crossed, so there won't be the need to find much money.

"All these do is start to identify those segments where we feel there's popular support," she explained. O'Donnell said the hope is that maybe they can find some money for these project in the coming bond election. Again, fingers crossed.

Koop cautioned the council members on the committee not to get their hopes up: Don't think at year's end, she said, that these pilots will be 50 percent toward design or competition or that they'll be "sufficiently far enough along to put on the bond program. Don't expect anything. Some folks have bond money from unused projects that could be eligible for Complete Streets projects in your district ... and some won't."

She then closed the meeting with these words of wisdom: "Transportation projects take a long time. A long time."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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