There may well have been Junes just as sizzling in Cowtown before this, but for damn sure there haven’t been any years on record when the city had a red-alert ozone day this early – June 9, for you asthma sufferers and other air breathers who are keeping score.
Traditionally, the red-level days – when the poisonous combo of industrial smoke and auto exhaust cooks in the summer heat until it produces air that’s dangerous for everyone -don’t show up in these parts until about mid-July. According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (Static writes that last word while trying not to giggle), in the previous five years this area has suffered a total of only two level- red days in June, both late in the month.
This year, however, we’ve already had two such days this month (it happened again on June 12). What’s more, TCEQ was predicting a third red-alert day on Wednesday. And the real summer is still ahead.
Gosh, ain’t it great – we get the effects of lax industrial regulation and global warming – you know, that thing that the Bushies say isn’t happening – at the same time. And here you thought the government wasn’t doing anything for your tax dollar.
Opponents of a new roadway through Trinity Park on the near West Side wailed so loudly on the subject last January that the Fort Worth City Council asked the staff to look at the issue again. The traffic engineers re-spun their numbers and came up with a route that was very close to what the opponents had suggested.
Under the original plan, a parkway between University Drive and West Seventh Street would have shaved the western edge of the park from Harley Street to the point where the river hits Seventh. The new plan still starts at Harley, then runs up Foch Street to Seventh, limiting the amount of parkland needed. But the similarity in plans did not keep the two sides from sniping at each other. State Rep. Lon Burnam, who had led the opposition, questioned why the city never asked environmental groups like the Sierra Club or “real people who use the park” to sit on advisory committees in the past. Council member Carter Burdette responded to Burnam’s criticism by warning that “one shouldn’t kick the judge in the shins before the judge rules.”
But a couple of questions on the Trinity Parkway remained unanswered. The city never asked the engineering firm that did the traffic study to determine if an increase in mass transit might alleviate the need to use park land to get people from the Cultural District to downtown. And why did the city consider only Harley Street for the point at which the new road would hit University, whereas three different sites were studied for the Seventh Street connection to the parkway?
The answer to that one is easy, but no one wanted to talk about it, including the protesters. The Bass family is backing a new rodeo arena at Harley and Montgomery streets, and the major purpose of the parkway is to move the future rodeo patrons more easily to downtown and back. That crowd isn’t going to get on mass transit, and they don’t want to be inconvenienced by waiting at a busy intersection with the rest of us. Or, as Burdette might have put it, why kick the judge in the shins when all it costs to make him happy is a little parkland?