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Will Dallas Buckle Under the Weight of So Much Asphalt?

11:09 AM EDT on May 10, 2012

We've been reporting on the Trinity Toll Road proposal in Dallas, yet another downtown highway with a tremendous cost.

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This Dallas highway proposal could turn out differently than previous ones. There is real opposition at the grassroots level. And even though the majority of local decision makers are supportive, a notable few have vocally joined the opposition.

Still, the endless road widening campaigns and the complete lack of vision are getting to Jason Roberts at Bike Friendly Oak Cliff -- and to other people he knows. Roberts says the Big D's apparent inability face up to its unsustainable development patterns will be its downfall:

What we’re witnessing today is a generational divide where outdated philosophies are represented by a leadership that refuses to acknowledge the obvious fact that their children are all saying, “I’d rather live in Austin/Portland/NY/SF/Chicago than Dallas.” Stubbornly, the parents keep saying, “they’ll come back for the jobs,” without realizing that the jobs are starting to go where the people want to be.

We’re well aware of the $1.4 billion levee toll road, and the Winfrey Point parking debacle at the Dallas Arboretum (both ironic due to their nature vs. machine conflict), but another instance also making the news is the “lack of parking” headlines in the historic (and walkable) Bishop Arts District. Every week we’re seeing one costly issue after another related to our endless pursuit of maintaining unsustainable suburban development patterns, and the solutions are always the same: take more land, and give it to cars. For some reason, the adage “When you’re in a hole, stop digging” has been completely ignored, and I’m beginning to become numb to the monthly, “I’m finally leaving Dallas!” emails that friends keep sending me.

While other major US cities are disincentivizing auto use and incentivizing mixed transportation models in order to balance their costly strain on infrastructure, we continue to do the reverse.  It’s obvious that our leadership is going to have to eventually take a stand (and a few arrows) and say, "we’re going to have to try something different," or else they’re going to be the embarrassing “Before” picture to an eventual leader who decides to take the inevitable path that every other city around them is taking. Like George Wallace in 1963, Dallas is waiting for its Bobby Kennedy.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Washington Area Bicyclists Association tells how they determined that DC-area police don't know much about cycling and traffic law. Walk Bike Lee shares an expert's advice that complete streets should be adapted to their surroundings, not shaped by a cookie cutter. And Mobilizing the Region reports that New Jersey's Camden County is getting bike-share.

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