DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After nearly 50 years of planning, it looks like the end of the road for the controversial Trinity Parkway.
During a briefing Wednesday, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said the long-planned road is dividing the city, and he can no longer support it.
“My job is to pull the city together. I don’t think the city wants that at this point,” said Mayor Rawlings.
The project has been planned by the city since 1970.
The parkway, which would be tolled, was originally designed to relieve traffic congestion on the city’s main highways and connect southeastern Dallas with the northwestern part of the city.
Despite being approved by city voters twice and the state spending $40 million in planning for the parkway over the years, most council members want to set up a final roadblock.
District 1 council member Scott Griggs said, “It’s just time to kill this thing, put it out of its misery.”
District 6 council member Omar Narvaez said, “I can tell you after talking to thousands of residents throughout West Dallas, the Design District, and Northwest Dallas, not a one of them talked to me about needing this tollroad.”
District 7 council member Kevin Felder said he found his constituents felt the same way. “They did not want it. I’m here to represent them and I’m going to carry out their wishes.”
District 8 council member Tennell Atkins said, “If we’re not going to build a toll road, council, citizens, let’s build opportunity in Southern Dallas.”
Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway agreed the city needs to focus on other needs in Southern Dallas. “Getting rid of these drug houses, vacant houses, education, better roads, straightening up the alleys, creating TIF’s, and encouraging banks to come.”
But District 5 council member Rickie Callahan pleaded with council members saying his constituents need a quicker way to get to work north of the city.”My job is to pull the city together.”
“This is about southeast Dallas, people who make $20,000 or $30,000 a year that bust their butts everyday to work. Council, I’m just ashamed to be a part of you that you can’t support something that we worked 50 years on.”
While the Mayor and council members all but killed the project, they will officially vote to do so next week.
The road would have been built and operated by the NTTA.
Spokesman Michael Rey said the agency will work with the city “to determine any appropriate next steps.”
Angela Hunt has fought against the toll road for years both as a citizen and former council member. “I’m so excited to see us finally being able to move forward and move beyond the Trinity Tollroad and start focusing on what’s important, which is the Trinity Park.”
Without a toll road, state transportation planners say they would have to expand I-35E near downtown by either widening it or elevating it.
Victor Vandergriff, a member of the Texas Transportation Commission said, “We’d really have to add a couple of lanes that we could manage the traffic flow better.”
He says if expanding I-35 is cost prohibitive, one option would be to expand Riverfront Boulevard, an idea once considered years ago when the street was named Industrial Boulevard. “I think you would have to put that on the table, yes”, said Vandergriff.
He says relieving traffic congestion in cities like Dallas is a top priority for Governor Greg Abbott. “This will be a top priority project, there’s not another corridor in Texas on I-35 that has got more traffic than this one.”