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Angela Hunt And Supporters Seek Referendum To Stop Trinity Toll Road

By Bill Zeeble, KERA reporter

Dallas, TX – Bill Zeeble, KERA 90.1 reporter: In the small Trammel Crow Park next to the Trinity River in the floodplain , Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt gathered with close to a hundred backers wearing Vote Trinity t-shirts. They're angry over plans to put a toll road inside the river levees, & hope to gather 50 thousand signatures - between April 30th and June 28th - to put a referendum on November's ballot. It was the quarter billion dollar bond package voters approved in 1998 that launched the road project, along with planned lakes, parks and other recreation areas. Council member Hunt:

Angela Hunt, Dallas City Council Member: I'm convinced this project has fundamentally changed from what voters approved in 1998. People are shocked when I explain a toll road will be built in this park.

Zeeble: Hunt says she's studied the issue, adding that the price of the huge, stinking toll way in the park, as she calls it, has ballooned from 394 million dollars to more than a billion. It will take away, she says a 3rd of the downtown recreation area. And it'll flood.

Hunt: All we're saying let's get all this out in the open. Let's make this transparent and take it to voters and let them decide if they want a toll road in this park. CHEERS

Zeeble: The only problem, say those opposed to Hunt's plan, is that voters DID decide on the road project, 9 years ago. Bill Ceverha championed the plan for the parks and the road, to relieve congestion. He still does, and argues Hunt's claim that the road will take a 3rd of park land is ridiculous. He's also not worried about flooding. The road will be built to a hundred year flood standard. If it floods, he says, it'll be closed until the water recedes. He says that was all planned. The city even considered building outside the levee, which Hunt prefers.

Bill Ceverha, Dallas consultant: The most expensive and most destructive was to put it out there along Industrial/Irving Boulevard. That'll take hundreds of businesses, put them out of business, and have to buy all that right of way.

Zeeble: Ceverha says many voters approved the bond package because OF the road way. Craig Holcomb, who heads The Trinity Commons Foundation, also backs the tollway inside the levees.

Craig Holcomb, Trinity Commons Foundation: The people who are now saying move it, are classic not in my backyard' because they'll move it to someone else's neighborhood.

Zeeble: Even if Hunt and her supporters gather the signatures needed for the ballot referendum, it's still unclear whether anyone can legally reverse part of a bond package voters passed. It won't stop the group's fight to preserve proposed parkland instead of roads, even if it hurts some businesses. But Hunt and the Vote Trinity group already face formidable opponents. They include past Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, on whose watch the bond package passed, and current Mayor Laura Miller . Arguably strange bedfellows, they BOTH call Hunt's efforts misguided and irresponsible. For KERA 90.1 I'm Bill Zeeble.