Stand up for fairness and democracy

VONCIEL JONES HILL | 4/20/2015, 5:23 a.m.
As an almost eight-year member of the Dallas City Council, and as chair of the City’s Transportation and Trinity River ...
Vonciel Jones Hill City of Dallas

As an almost eight-year member of the Dallas City Council, and as chair of the City’s Transportation and Trinity River Corridor Project Committee, I have learned first-hand that transportation policy is foundational to the long-term health and vibrancy of every city. Without effective and efficient transportation options, economic development is stymied, community growth is limited, and air quality issues multiply.

Those are the reasons that we must keep the commitment we have made to the voters regarding the Trinity River Corridor Project, including the Trinity Parkway. The project includes five components: flood control, economic development, recreational amenities, ecological restoration and transportation. A number of the components are either completed or under way.

The Trinity project has been discussed and debated for decades. Voters have supported it not once, but twice. Both affirmative votes were with the strong support of Southern Dallas. The time to complete the project is now – when the allocation of funding is focused on the southern portion of the city.

Unfortunately, a group of parkway opponents – many of whom never supported the project in the first place, and who do not live, work, play or worship in Southern Dallas – is doing all they can to stop the parkway and all the benefits that it will bring to both Southern Dallas and the city as a whole.

The Trinity Parkway is beneficial for a multitude of reasons, but I want to emphasize three: traffic congestion relief, economic development and air-quality improvement.

In the next decade, Dallas’ population is projected to grow exponentially. That growth will bring more vehicular traffic and a need for congestion relief. Certainly, traffic options other than automobiles must be developed. However, we will not become a car-free zone. Keep in mind, that there will always be parents with a child or children, who must be at various events, at various times, who cannot accommodate those necessities with bus, rail, bicycles or walking.

Not only is the Trinity Parkway crucial for traffic relief, it is significant for economic development. To see how roads drive dollars, look no farther than Central Expressway, the North Dallas Tollway or Trinity Groves after the opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

Additionally, the Trinity Parkway will encourage employers to locate their businesses in Southern Dallas. No one is going to put jobs where people have to spend hours getting to 0them. People who live south, like those who live north, east and west, should have the option of working wherever in the region they can find the best employment opportunity. No one should be limited to working in any one geographic area because of transportation challenges.

Jobs will also be created in the design and construction of the road itself. Transportation work is some of the highest-paid employment, and work on the Trinity Parkway will be no different. The contracting and execution opportunities on a $1.5 BILLION plus project should be immediately obvious to anyone concerned about the economic opportunity for Southern Dallas.

Finally, the Trinity Parkway will help improve air quality in Dallas and throughout the region. Anyone who has sat in traffic knows that the longer a trip takes, the more pollutants are released into the air. Air quality affects everyone’s health, and we must utilize every available method of improving air quality, including building this reliever road that will reduce everyone’s time in traffic.

The Trinity Parkway is an extremely promising project for our community. The tragedy would be for a group of naysayers to block our progress in order to satisfy their own narrow agenda, rather than promote the best interest of communities in Southern and Southeast Dallas.

I am calling on people of goodwill throughout our city to stand up for the principles of democracy and fairness. Please urge the mayor, current City Council members and candidates seeking election to the City Council to honor the will of the voters and do what is so beneficial for Southern Dallas by completing the Trinity River Corridor Project, including the Trinity Parkway.

Vonciel Jones Hill is a Dallas City Council member and chairs the Transportation and Trinity River Project Committee.