Holy Cow! Dallas Also Embroiled In Toll-Road-In-The-Park Battle

By Bill Oakey – May 8, 2015

Thursday night’s Austin City Council hearing on toll lanes over Lady Bird Lake brought back fond memories of grass-roots citizens coming together to fight for the Save Our Springs Ordinance (SOS) back in the early 90’s. The overwhelming majority of last night’s speakers do not want a double-decker bridge with unaffordable surge-priced tolls built over Lady Bird Lake.

Highlights from the meeting included Travis County Commissioner and SOS co-founder, Brigid Shea, reading a letter from Luci Baines Johnson. The crowd in the Council Chambers went wild! Several speakers pointed out that major cities around the world are now or have been removing highways from parks and waterways. These include Seattle, Portland, Boston, Singapore and even Seoul, South Korea.

When the dust settled and all the speakers had made their appeals, newly elected Mayor, Steve Adler, shined like a beacon. He spoke eloquently of Lady Bird Lake, Zilker Park and Auditorium Shores being the “Crown Jewels of Austin.” No one who engaged with him could match his grasp of the details. There wasn’t a person in the room who could match Adler’s acumen for citing Federal regulations, previous CAMPO grant application language or any other minute details. (My own whimsical thoughts of challenging the Mayor to a game of Scrabble have been placed on hold indefinitely).

After lengthy discussions and much nitpicking over the wording, the City Council voted 9 to 2 to adopt a resolution calling for an independent City study of alternatives for the road’s size and location. The resolution also calls upon the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), to work closely with City officials in their own study, which is already underway. Importantly, the resolution does not call for abandoning the road project altogether. Many speakers supporting the single option of four toll lanes over Lady Bird Lake characterized the Council resolution as nothing more than an environmentalist attack on traffic relief for South Austin.

Take a Look At What’s Happening In Dallas!

It turns out that the good people of Dallas are fighting a very similar battle. And it will all come to a head in a big City Council election happening tomorrow (Saturday May 9th). Take a look at the article below:

Poll finds Dallasites’ support for toll road within Trinity River levees tepid

 Follow @brandonformby bformby@dallasnews.com

Transportation Writer, Dallas Morning News

April 22, 2015

As the size of the Trinity Parkway grew in recent years, so did a chasm between how Dallas residents and top city officials view the controversial toll road, a poll by The Dallas Morning News shows.


2 thoughts on “Holy Cow! Dallas Also Embroiled In Toll-Road-In-The-Park Battle

  1. Mike Rodriguez

    Bill, Who wouldn’t prefer a walk in the park over driving on MoPac. What a nice letter from Lynda Byrd. However, it had nothing to do with addressing our traffic congestion and the need for added capacity to accommodate huge traffic growth over the past decades. After much hyperbole from the environmentalists last night, the same view that gave birth to the council resolution, the council passed it. However, the effort to impart reason and register complaint in support of South Austin commuters was not wasted in that the end version was so watered down by amendment as to be completely ineffectual and unnecessary.
    The Dallas example is not pertinent to Austin as they have a number of loops and a grid of major arteries to handle their traffic load. Austin does not.

    1. Bill Oakey Post author

      Emotion clearly got in the way of reason at the hearing. Many people opposed to the resolution would not accept the fact that it was not designed to stop the road project. Its only purpose was to ensure consideration of alternatives to putting 4 toll lanes over Lady Bird Lake and dumping thousands of cars onto already congested Cesar Chavez. When viewed in its honest and proper perspective, the Council action last night represented democracy at its best. Thoughtful discussion on the dais, careful analysis of the facts, and an attempt to inform all who would listen that traffic improvements will come to South Austin with no further delay than what the current CAMPO study already calls for.


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