A decades-long battle over a potential toll road in the Trinity River is about to end with the road’s opponents claiming victory.
The Dallas City Council is poised to vote next week on a resolution that would kill the toll road part of the Trinity project and turn the focus to building a park. It’s a victory for toll road opponents that seemed unthinkable until recently.
Mayor Mike Rawlings, who previously supported the toll road, officially stated his opposition to its construction at a Wednesday council meeting.
“I will be part of the group that says let's get together as a city and do something constructive in the city and not build a toll road or a parkway because I don't think that's what the city wants,” Rawlings said.
Councilman Philip Kingston has long fought against the road and reflected on Wednesday about the long battle.
"It feels a little bit celebratory,” Kingston said of the impending death of the road. “It’s a process that has taken a lot out of a lot of people."
The Trinity Parkway toll road was pushed for decades as a way to relieve Dallas gridlock and prepare for future growth. It would’ve connected from Interstate 35 north of downtown to US 175 south of downtown.
Proponents of the project claimed it would provide relief around the west and south sides of Dallas along the I-30 and I-35E corridors.
But years of opposition to a high-speed toll road culminated in the past two years with a change in the makeup of the council and prompted a scale down of the road. That scaled down version wouldn’t make enough money to cover the road’s construction -- and the city and other agencies don’t have the funds to build the road, either.
"From a mobility and congestion relief standpoint it is problematic. I don't want to speak for my former colleagues at NTTA, but it probably doesn't pencil for them,” said TxDOT commissioner Victor Vandergriff.
Vandergriff said future road projects in place of the toll road could involve widening I-35 or building lanes above the interstate or underground.
Only one council member continued to speak in favor of the project. Pleasant Grove-area council member Rickey Callahan claimed the road was needed for southern Dallas residents to get to jobs in the northern part of the city.
The council will also discuss next week details of the Trinity park and how the park will be managed. Philanthropist Annette Simmons has offered a $50 million donation to help jumpstart the park.