Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Qui Bono?

Last night was the public hearing on the Trinity Toll Road.  I'm rather ambivalent on the specifics of it as you may know.  Perhaps a vicious ingrained nihilist sense of defeatism.  Or maybe because I'm more focused on the part of town with more market-oriented potential, downtown/deep ellum/near east ---- all the way to White Rock Lake.  Want waterfront density?  We might be looking the wrong direction.  White Rock Lake is actually nice.

How I am against the Trinity Toll Road is the principle of it as well as the process and mindset behind it (ignoring the potential corruption implications).  Building new highway capacity to relieve traffic is the definition of insanity.  Never has it ever worked besides temporarily.  And beyond that, it bestows infrastructural burden and long-term debt on the city while focusing on "regionalism."  In other words, regional development outside the city proper.

There were several blog readers who showed up and gave great speeches during the public input phase of the dog and pony show.  I didn't need to speak.  Everybody who stood up did a great job and showed that they're capable, informed leaders themselves.  I will however email my input which is the speech I typed out on my iPhone on the walk over and subsequently up, around, and through the cavernous convention center (the plan is to expand that with massive truck docks?!?!  You know you're world class when you're competing with Las Vegas and Orlando as a convention city -- though without ever being able to compete with Vegas for vice nor Orlando for Wholesome Family Fun! TM.  I guess our strategy is to compete as a 'change of pace' for conventioneers and mouseketeers from those two hideous, soulless places.).


Who wins?  Really.  Who wins?

Proper city building is about win-win-wins. 

The City should get tax base while not spending what they dont have to further erode tax base.

The Citizenry should be entitled to choice of transpo as well as public safety and improved quality of life.  Isn't that what taxes towards a civilized society are intended to buy?  More highway capacity only serves to minimize legitimate transportation options particularly for the poor who often spend up to half of their take home pay in transportation costs. As for safety, Do you know how many people died on loop 12 alone in last ten years? About 140 (accurate answer is 131 from 2001-2009).

Lastly, winners ought to be investors. We should welcome upzoning and development for a denser city with increased tax base and in turn amenities & city services.  Long-term, sustainable and continued investment flocks to attractive livable places...where people are and want to be.  Take away that desirability you will lose people, then investment, then more people in a downward spiral. If we think spending 1.8 billion will yield anything more than gas stations, drive thrus, and Condoms to Gos, I invite you to drive up and down any freeway in the metroplex and observe what highest and best use of highway adjacent land is. It's certainly not high quality walkable neighborhoods which are proven to generate far more tax base, jobs, and residents per acre than other.

Investment leaves due to highway capacity because it serves to spread people further out as shown by a University of Toronto study entitled the First Law of Congestion.  Not theory, law.  And it shows there is a 1:1 relationship between highway capacity and vehicle miles traveled.  Add capacity, people drive more.  Meaning everything gets further and further apart.  More car dependent, as the self-reinforcing feedback loops bankrupts cities.

Carmageddon in LA showed the same concept in reverse.  That temporary closings of highways reduced capacity.  Demand dropped 25% rather than merely 100% of it re-routing throughout the city.  People began to walk, carpool, ride transit, etc.

The design team and the NTTA should know these things, right?  They're the experts.  Sorry.  They're minds must be on making it rain later tonight at Plush.

I know who wins. Jetpack builders. How else will we get to the hypothetical park? While that may not be serious, it's the similar kind of magical thinking that more of the same will fix whats causing the problems.

I invite you out of 1980s to join me in 21st century, where the competition of cities is fast and furious. And Dallas is being left behind.