Lisa Lamkin
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Lisa Lamkin

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Open letter to the "Dream Team"

In this the holiday season we are reminded that we are shaped by what we love and we are judged by what we choose to cherish and protect. Our Mayor has invited you as a “Dream Team” of experts to engage in studying the current plans for a toll road within the Trinity. We at AIA Dallas are encouraged by the qualifications you bring to bear on this urgent conversation. For your effort to have a successful impact on the process and the future of Dallas it is imperative that you be empowered to engage the design challenge with a renewed vision for the potential of our river – a “connected vision plan” for Dallas Trinity Park.

To this end, we offer these questions and comments for your consideration:

1. Do we indeed have a traffic problem?

  • Is our projected congestion of the magnitude that would require a high-speed limited access tollroad to be built within the Trinity River levees? Is this prudent and fiscally responsible?
  • A significant amount of our traffic congestion is generated by north-south thru-traffic that does not have a downtown destination or origin. Can this thru-traffic be rerouted around the city?
  • There are numerous construction projects underway that address many of the outdated highway designs within the Dallas city center including the Horseshoe, Lower Stemmons and other components of Project Pegasus. When these are fully implemented, what will their impact be on traffic congestion? Is there still a need for a high-speed tollroad?
  • Generational differences in car ownership and driving preferences are profound and transformative. Has this shift in preference for more sustainable transportation options been factored into the transportation model that is influencing this project?
  • DART has been a huge success for Dallas yet is not part of the plan for the Trinity corridor? Is there a role for DART to play here?
  • Future development patterns indicate an increase in density as you move closer to the city center. Does this effort to create greater density in the city center change the need for a tollroad?

2. Can a tollroad really be a parkway?

The parkway as defined by the Balanced Vision Plan is the basis for design for this project. We are told that in order to generate sufficient revenue a tollroad must be designed for faster traffic and with greater care for safety. Tollroads by their very nature require a  high-speed design, limited on and off ramps, elevated flyovers, and crash barriers that are visual, and physical obstructions.  Can a tollroad be successful without these elements? 

3. How about planning for pullouts along the Parkway?

Our Trinity Park must have pedestrian and automobile access to be the vibrant front door for our city as envisioned by the Balanced Vision Plan. It occurred to us that parkways that coexist successfully with parks do not dump cars into large parking lots from limited on/off ramps, but rather incorporate a necklace of small-scaled pullouts to park along the route. Can it really be a parkway if we do not have access to the park?  

As architects and design professionals we have the training to visualize from the plan drawings the dramatic impact the proposed tollroad will have on the Trinity River development.  We are concerned that the public may not understand the true nature and scale of the proposed design, and we therefore recommend that your team include three-dimensional visualization as a tool for greater public understanding. 

AIA Dallas appreciates the Dream Team’s willingness to be part of this conversation, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts. We also invite our allied organizations and other concerned citizens to join us in a renewed commitment to a long-term vision for the Trinity River Corridor that preserves and protects a connection between our river, our neighborhoods and all of our residents.  We believe that this connection will solidify us a first class city. 

Lisa W. Lamkin, AIA 
2014 AIA Dallas President