Will Texas DOT Gouge Another Highway Through Dallas?

A proposal for the $1.3 billion Trinity Toll Road in Dallas. Image: North Texas Tolling Authority

A proposal for the $1.3 billion Trinity Toll Road in Dallas. Image: North Texas Tolling Authority

The Trinity Toll Road embodies Texas’s destructive compulsion for expanding highways.

The proposed $1.3 billion highway project will likely increase sprawl and weaken central Dallas. It’s part of a $5 billion package of road projects to ostensibly reduce congestion. Because tackling congestion by building always works out well.

If you need another reason to feel leery of the Trinity Toll Road, here’s a good one: The Dallas region can’t afford it. But while it looks like local agencies may never put together the money to make the project happen, now the state — which also can’t afford it — may get involved, reports Brandon Formby at the Dallas Morning News’ Transportation Blog:

TxDOT’s involvement could move the long-delayed and consistently divisive project closer to completion if the [North Texas Tolling Authority] and the city can’t come up with the money needed to build it. So far, a source for the bulk of construction costs hasn’t been identified. But TxDOT chipping in would also push the project farther, once again, from the narrative city leaders sold to voters who narrowly approved the project seven years ago. The road was portrayed in 2007 as a project that would largely be paid for by the drivers who would eventually use it.

[North Central Texas Council of Governments' Michael] Morris said the city still has some money left from about $78 million earmarked for the road. But that leaves more than $1.4 billion to be secured. NTTA is largely responsible for coming up with the financing once federal approval of the project is received. That’s expected to come later this year.

The latest attempts to keep the toll road alive also come as North Texans’ fatigue over toll projects is prompting state lawmakers and Collin County officials to push back against plans to make the area home to the nation’s largest network of managed toll lanes.

It comes on the heels of a short-term Congressional fix that narrowly saved the nation’s highway fund, a major source of local transportation projects, from a fiscal cliff.

It also comes as regional transit agencies are counting on increased roadway congestion to push a larger share of commuters on to public transit, something that billions in additional rail lines alone has so far failed to do.

Elsewhere on the Network today: UrbanVelo shares outrageous footage of a driver striking a cyclist in Texas. BikeWalkLee says a string of nasty collisions is giving South Florida a reputation as a bad place for biking. And Greater Greater Washington explains the controversy behind a new sculpture meant to illustrate the problem of global warming.