More Momentum on Dallas Trinity Parkway

New art, animation and design work announced Thursday will help detail the four-lane Trinity River Parkway plan unanimously endorsed by the Dallas City Council Wednesday.

The Regional Transportation Council for North Texas heard about the plan Thursday to shift up to one-million RTC dollars already earmarked for a Trinity road to combine the new road concept with an old one.

RTC Director Michael Morris said it builds upon the momentum from Wednesday’s strong city council vote.

“We want to get enough design detail into the particular project and create a visualization of the project, so everyone says ‘yes,’ that’s what we would like to see built,” Morris said.

Dallas spent years pursuing a six-lane tollway to be built on a raised “bench” along the Trinity River's east levee through downtown Dallas.

In partnership with the North Texas Tollway Authority, the six-lane toll road has already received Federal Highway Administration approval and is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Past animation of the roadway was prepared with the six-lane tollway concept. A photo of a barren six-lane road still appeared on the city of Dallas website Thursday to represent the Trinity Parkway.

The new four-lane parkway would be more integrated with proposed parks along the river. It is the result of a “dream team” charrette by outside planners. The group came up with 20 design recommendations which were endorsed by the Dallas city council as a preferred alternative in April.

The city council with six new members Wednesday reaffirmed that change more strongly with the unanimous vote requiring that $47 million devoted to the project be used on a road no more than four lanes wide.

“We think that’s very feasible,” Morris said. “We think there’s a lot of very interesting ideas in that. We don’t think it contradicts the work that the Corp of Engineers and the Federal Highway Administration has done.”

Dallas City Council Member Sandy Greyson, also a member of the Regional Transportation Council, supported the four-lane parkway plan at both meetings after fighting the previous six-lane toll road plan for many years.

“It’s starting to head us in a direction of having a smaller, less impactful road, what some of us have always thought the road ought to be, which is a park access road,” Greyson said.

Renderings from the “dream team” show a four-lane, tree-lined park road, a sharp contrast to the barren 6 lane toll road visualization prepared before. It is still unclear whether so much vegetation would be permitted in the Trinity Floodway.

“That is one of the answers that we need to have and relatively soon,” Greyson said. “Is it really possible to have that wonderful vision that the charrette team came up with? So we’re going to be asking the Corps early on.”

Greyson said the four-lane parkway would still be elevated on a “bench” to keep it dry in nearly all high water events in the floodway. How to pay for the project, estimated at $1.3 billion, is still a huge question, even more so since Greyson and others prefer that it not be a toll road.

“If you change up the vision for the road from what it was before, how do you find the money to pay for that? So, we’re going to be looking at all these possibilities,” she said.

Supporters of the previous tollway plan wanted relief from downtown traffic.

Morris said the road is still needed for transportation as well as park access.

“We wouldn’t be working so hard for so long if we didn’t think this project was needed,” he said.

Dallas voters first approved the road in 1998 as part of a combined Trinity River project for recreation, transportation and improved flood control.

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