In 1992, the Trinity Route, an idea born in 1967, was granted a new chance at life. Dallas political leaders began promoting a plan to build a section of the planned toll road around downtown, from SH 183 to US 175. This stretch of road would connect the northwest and southeast parts of the city. The Trinity Route was now dubbed the Trinity Parkway, and it would eventually be adopted by the behemoth Trinity Corridor plan (which features an enhanced natural landscape, new recreational areas, and other transportation improvements for cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians) as part of a much greater project. In 2015, construction of the toll road has yet to begin, and Dallas voters will be heavily weighing their opinions on the project when they head to the polls this May.
When Ron Kirk became Dallas mayor in 1995, his top priority was to see the Trinity Corridor plan succeed. Three years later, Dallas voters narrowly approved a Trinity Corridor bond issue, which allocated 246 million dollars toward the entire Corridor project, 84 million dollars of which was designated for construction of the Parkway. In 2007, voters turned out again to approve construction of the parkway after opponents, led by city council member Angela Hunt, forced a referendum on the project. Concerns about the safety of the highway, which included sand being found beneath the levees by the Army Corps of Engineers after Hurricane Katrina, were key factors this time around. However, many have cited this vote as unfairly confusing, because a vote of “No” on the proposition was a vote in favor of the Parkway.
In the time since, opponents have picked up on several drawbacks of the toll road. Currently, the Parkway is planned to run for 8.5 miles, much of it in between the Trinity River levees and alongside a floodwall. However, flooding is still possible, which would result in expensive evacuation efforts and repairs on the road. Many citizens worry about the dangers the highway poses to the natural land around the river. Additionally, current studies show that the Parkway would have a minimal impact on traffic conditions, only increasing speed in the area by 2 MPH. Perhaps most important, the majority of funding for the Parkway has yet to be identified.
This year, Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings runs against Marcos Ronquillo, a Dallas attorney. Ronquillo believes that the Parkway will bring more prosperity to the suburbs, ignoring Dallas’ urban core. Rawlings continues to advocate for the entire Corridor plan.
UNT’s Lester Strother and Texas Metro Magazine collection contain grey literature pertaining to the history of the Trinity Route as it was envisioned by the Texas Turnpike Authority. Texas Metro Magazine was established largely to promote the development of the Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport and was headed by publisher Lester Strother. Because the new toll road was expected to bring traffic to the airport, the magazine highly favored the venture.The collection features over 20 linear feet of photographs, as well as correspondence with contractors seeking advertising space within the magazine and other articles about the airport’s development.
-by Alexandra Traxinger Schütz