Friday, June 29, 2007

Trinity toll road foes say 80,000 signed petition for November vote

By BRUCE TOMASO - The Dallas Morning News - June 29, 2007
Dallas voters will decide in November whether to scrap the Trinity River toll road, if referendum petitions submitted Friday by opponents of the road are certified as valid.

City Council member Angela Hunt said her group, TrinityVote, had gathered more than 80,000 signatures to stop the toll road, a key component of the Trinity River Corridor Project. If 48,000 of those signatures are certified by the city secretary as valid and belonging to registered voters living in Dallas, a measure will be placed on the November ballot.

That measure would prohibit the construction of any road inside the river levees that is more than four lanes wide, with a speed limit of more than 35 mph.

“Here you see before you a mandate from 80,000 people in Dallas who say they want a voice in the future of our Trinity River,” Ms. Hunt said at a City Hall news conference. Behind her stood more than 50 volunteers from TrinityVote, many of them wearing T-shirts that said, “Park or toll road? Let the voters decide.”

Striking a populist chord, Ms. Hunt alluded to the fact that the toll road is supported by many members of the city’s civic, business and political elite.

“There are some politicians who want to pave the Trinity,” she said. “But that option is no longer in their hands. As of today, the decision is in our hands, the hands of the voters, where it rightfully belongs.”

Ms. Hunt contends that the toll road should be scrapped because it will detract from the proposed downtown river park that many perceive as the centerpiece of the Trinity Project. She said that when Dallas voters approved $246 million in bonds for the Trinity project in 1998, many thought they were voting for a low-speed parkway, not a high-speed, multi-lane toll road.

Supporters of the road say it's needed to alleviate downtown congestion, and that removing it now from the plans could delay work on other aspects of the Trinity project, including the park and flood-control improvements

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