Lesson in Reduced Expectations: Dallas’ Trinity Lakes Plan

Like so many visionary plans for the restoration of public space, Dallas’ original intentions for the Trinity Lakes plan might have been “just a bunch of pretty pictures.”

Tom Benning reports that “Dallas is poised to move forward with a much-ballyhooed plan to build lakes along the Trinity River, more than 15 years after voters approved the idea as part of a $246 million bond package.”

The Trinity Lakes plan, attached to a $2 billion plan to build the Trinity River Toll Road, has gone through several iterations, severely cutting back the scale of the proposal and spending much of the approved money on design, leaving little for construction.  

According to Benning, “the current plan, described by council member Sandy Greyson as a series of ‘puddles,’ is a more realistic rendition of what the $31.5 million in 1998 bond money devoted to lakes was ever going to buy. And that the sweeping vision outlined in various schematics — large bodies of water, promenades, and famously, sailboats — was really just a bunch of pretty pictures.”

Here’s the chronology of how the plan was watered down:

  • A 1999 master plan “used a 135-acre downtown lake as the centerpiece. The proposal said a second 100-acre lake would be built years later as part of the toll road.”
  • The 2003 the “balanced vision plan” called for a 90-acre Urban Lake, a 56-acre Natural Lake and a 128-acre West Dallas Lake.
  • “Nearly $20 million of the $31.5 million in lakes money has been diverted to pay for the overall Trinity project’s design and schematics. And now only about $8 million is left for the actual lakes.”
Full Story: Ambitious Trinity Lakes plan evaporates into 'puddles'


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