10/22/07 Trinity Toll Road
Did you happen to glance at the Trinity River Toll Road write up in the Dallas Morning Snooze? The number of vehicles using the toll road has dropped by nearly 5,600 per day vs the numbers the NO campaign keeps talking about. Instead of 100,000, it is now only 94,400. Makes you wonder how they are generating these numbers and why suddenly fewer cars are going to use the toll road?
(1) Subject: Tax Increase
The mayor and the "NO" campaign claim that voting "YES" will require a tax increase. That is not true. If you vote "NO," gasoline taxes will have to be increased to fund TxDOT's share of the Trinity Tollroad.
In 2000, when the consultants did their study of the toll road, NTTA calculated that the toll road (then 8 lanes wide) would generate enough revenue to borrow $384 million dollars. If you add what is left of the city of Dallas bond funds, you come to $461 million dollars. The estimated cost of the toll road in July 2007 is $1.3 billion. That difference has to come from TXDOT or the Federal Highway Administration. TXDOT has already come out and said it has no money to fund new projects, and the Federal Highway Trust Fund is running out of money. Therefore, either or both the state of Texas or the U.S. government will have to raise gasoline taxes to pay for this proposed toll road.
I challenge the mayor and the city staff to prove that they have the money to build the toll road. Not a promise, an actual signed agreement.
(2) Subject: Email Exchange---Stan Aten & City of Dallas Employee Rebecca Dugger
Below in black is what I sent to the Dallas City Council and Mayor. Rebecca Dugger's response to my comments follows in blue. My comments, not Rebecca's, were later published in the Oak Cliff Tribune. Regarding the 5% for traffic going through the Mixmaster and on to 175 CF Hawn, the meeting I refer to was a NTTA meeting held at the Ramada Hotel on S. Akard Street before the election was held.
Subject: Why the Trinity Tollroad won't work?
I know most of you are supporters of the Trinity Tollroad in the Trinity River Floodway.
Here are some points to consider why it is not a good idea:
#1 Back in 1998, there was an NTTA meeting where the experts discussed the traffic flow thru the Mixmaster. At that time only 5% of the total traffic that went thru the Mixmaster used the route that is proposed for the toll road. Assuming 330,000 vehicles per day in the Mixmaster, that translates into 16,500 vehicles per day for the toll road.
#2 The primary traffic flow is south on I-35 and later on to US 67 to the southern suburbs and eventually to Mexico. The toll road will not help these users.
#3 In 1998, the cost of the toll road was less than building light rail. Today, the cost for building this project is at $100 million per million per mile and climbing. Light rail is about 40% cheaper per mile and can carry more people.
#4 When the toll road was proposed gasoline was a $1 a gallon. Today, gasoline is $2.65. All it takes is a direct hit by a hurricane to hit Houston to drive gasoline over $3. Future forecasts suggest gasoline will be over $4 a gallon or higher within 10 years. As the cost of gasoline escalates, traffic on the toll road will drop.
#5 Also, now that the toll road is further in the floodway, the cost for protecting the Trinity from polluted runoff and protecting the roadway from flooding will drive costs even higher. Also, have you asked a hydrologist to estimate what impact the relocated roadway will have on the leeves which protect downtown?
#6 Finally, I ride the train across the Trinity River every day or drive on I-35. I have observed that flooding of the Trinity River is occurring more frequently, and it requires less rainfall to create a flood. Some levees collapsed this summer during the heavy rains in June and July.
If you are concerned about the long-term future of our city, you need to look closer at the Trinity River plan. Or, Dallas could become the next New Orleans.
-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------
From: Rebecca Dugger Director Trinity River Corridor Project <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Stan Aten
Cc: "Garcia, Elba" <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: Why the Trinity Tollroad won't work?
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2007
Dear Mr. Aten,
Your email was forwarded to me from Councilmember Elba Garcia. She asked me to provide responses to your points...
#1 I have contacted both the staff and the consultants for NTTA regarding any 1998 meeting, and we have concluded that you are referring either to the July 8, 1999 public scoping meeting for the Trinity Parkway or to the meeting in 1998 that was held by TxDOT for the Major Transportation Investment Study (MTIS, final release in March 1998). The traffic on the (then 8-lane) Parkway is reported in the MTIS Report, Appendix C as 54% of the MTIS goal of adding 250,000 person trip capacity to the corridor. This equals 135,000 person trips per day, or about 110,000 vehicles. The current Parkway is now 6-lanes based on city input during the Balanced Vision Plan. The traffic modeling in the NTTA Draft EIS (Page 2-42 - Alt 3B) shows about 100,000 vehicles per day on the roadway. We have not been able to find any reference to the 5% number in any of the documents. If you have additional information as to the origin of your 5% number, please provide it so that we can determine the context and intent of that number.
#2 The tollroad will help users on other surrounding highways in the area and region by providing an alternate route. Instead of all traffic going through Dallas on IH-30 and IH-35, a portion of that traffic could choose to take the Trinity Parkway, which reduces traffic congestion on the other highways.
#3 DART is doing all they can to provide as much light rail in this region, according to DART spokesperson Morgan Lyons. They will double the amount of rail in the area by 2014. However, Mr. Lyons indicated in a recent news article that there is no single tool to fix the congestion problem and that we need more of everything, including roadways, to resolve the problem.
#4 The price of gasoline may have an impact on the amount of passenger car travel. That would be something for the demographics and modeling personnel at NCTCOG to evaluate. Escalating gasoline costs might also accelerate migration to more efficient vehicles and alternative fueled vehicles with little change in traffic volumes.
#5 The estimated cost for the roadway inside the levees is $1.3 billion (as of July 2007). That includes floodwalls which did not increase the cost of the roadway as a result of moving the roadway away from the levee because the floodwalls were always in the plan and cost estimates for the other roadways inside the levees. The roadway's runoff collection and treatment system is also included in this cost, and is a very positive aspect of this roadway! The runoff from other streets and roadways in the entire Trinity River watershed (6,000 sq. miles) basically flows unabated and untreated into the Trinity River, carrying with it oils, grease, heavy metals and other chemicals. This includes all the current bridges crossing the Trinity River which have runoff flowing directly into the Trinity River. NTTA proposes to capture their runoff and using a special treatment unit, remove the sediment and oils from that runoff prior to discharge. NTTA has not been mandated to do this by any environmental organization. They have chosen to implement ?Best Management Practices? in their construction of their transportation facilities. They included a similar system in their toll bridge over Lake Lewisville. NTTA is also considering limiting or even excluding large trucks from the Trinity Parkway. This will reduce the risk of hazardous chemicals or spills on this road from these large trucks.
It should be noted that the parkway alternatives outside the levees along Industrial Blvd. have estimated costs of $1.6 billion to $2 billion.
Extensive hydraulic modeling has been done for this roadway. We are working with engineering experts at the Corps of Engineers and with the NTTA consultants to ensure that the roadway will not adversely impact the levees and their flood control capacity.
#6 At the Commerce St. bridge, there is a river gage, set up by the United States Geological Survey, which records the river level in 15 minute intervals on a daily basis. On their website (<http://www.usgs.gov/> ), this data is available for review. Their statistics do not show a trend towards an increase in frequency of flooding (where the river gets out of its banks) over the past several years.
The Trinity River levees did not collapse or fail this summer. No water seepage or overflows of the levees occurred. The levees did experience sloughs, or slides, at several locations. Levee slides are not uncommon, and the City of Dallas Levee District Division repairs, maintains and performs daily inspections of our levees to ensure their protection level is intact.
If you have further questions, please let me know.