Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Referendum Fight Comes Down to Toll Roads vs. Parks

Next week Dallas, Texas voters go to the polls to decide a proposition that would limit the size of a toll road scheduled to be built through a major urban park. Concerned neighborhood associations and community leaders are defying the current Dallas Mayor and various business groups to leverage the referendum, which would hold down speed limits on a two-laner to 35 mph. Proponents of the toll road are pushing for a 55 mph, multi-lane toll road to slash its way through the Dallas greenway in a more driver-oriented configuration.

Opponents of the toll road (which would make the proponents of next week's proposition) have been waging this battle with smaller campaign contributions, a blog, and water-cooler ads such as this one:

That looks like a pretty effective way to frame the debate. Toll road advocates themselves have tried to frame this as a way to "save" the park and avoid "new" taxes, even though they have been called out in the mainstream media for that tactic. This referendum should give us some insight as to whether local communities are willing to hand over control of growth to private interests without any reasonable limitations, informed feedback, or balanced guidelines whatsoever.

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