Friday, December 16, 2016

Dallas to Suburbs: Seriously, Drop Dead

In October, the Dallas city council voted unanimously on a resolution that did not include the Cotton Belt line as one of its transit priorities. I reported it then as "Dallas to Suburbs: Drop Dead." The DART board backed the Cotton Belt anyway, voting on a 20 year financial plan that included the Cotton Belt in the plan. I reported the reaction in Dallas as "Dallas to Suburbs: Drop Dead, Still." Last week, Dallas showed they are serious in their opposition to the Cotton Belt by naming Patrick Kennedy to the DART board. According to The Dallas Observer's Stephen Young, Kennedy wants "DART to focus on two major projects, the D2 subway in downtown and reforming DART's bus system rather than suburb-friendly projects like the Cotton Belt."

You may or may not recognize his name, but Patrick Kennedy is the unofficial leader of the "tear down IH345" movement in Dallas as well as a member in good standing of the "Kill The Trinity Tollroad Project." Sounds good, right? Peter Simek of D Magazine likes the appointment...a lot.
With [Patrick] Kennedy representing Dallas, we have an expert voice who can help push DART towards a future that focuses on the kind of mobility, access, and transportation equality that will generate sustainable economic growth and opportunity for the city — and the region.
Source: D Magazine.
What's not to like? I agree with everything Simek says — up to the dash. He tacks "and the region" onto his statement almost like an afterthought, maybe a late realization that the "A" in DART stands for Area. Kennedy's appointment is indeed good news for the narrow interests of the City of Dallas. Despite Simek's afterthought, it's not good news for the broader interests of the region. That means it's not good news for Richardson.

Why? Patrick Kennedy sees regional development as a zero sum game. What's good for the suburbs is bad for Dallas, and vice versa. In his world, Dallas is in a tug-of-war with Richardson (and other suburbs to the north). The way I played tug-of-war as a kid, there can be only one winner. Expect Patrick Kennedy to tug for Dallas against the region. I reported on that attitude in this article: "Center of Dallas is Now in Richardson." I reported on the source of Kennedy's misconception concerning cities like Richardson in this earlier article: "Richardson: Suburb or City?"

Bottom line? Richardson is going to have a fight on its hands to get that Cotton Belt line developed. Dallas is not a partner. Dallas is not even just a disinterested bystander. Dallas is an active opponent. Patrick Kennedy is going to be Dallas's champion in that fight, not Richardson's. If Dallas wins the fight over the Cotton Belt, reforming DART's bus system will be a poor consolation prize for Richardson.

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