The cap isn’t TxDOT’s purview.
TxDOT does transportation. The deck park is a public amenity.
TxDOT is, however, expanding I-10 downtown. And they’ll make sure that the sides of the roadway are sturdy enough to support that wonderful deck park that certain private interests have been pitching us, trying to convince us that we cannot live without a deck park.
And come on, that park looks great. Green space. A dog park. Maybe even some of those splash parks that our City Manager is so fond of.
But the cap, the deck, the structure over the freeway, that’s our responsibility.
TxDOT isn’t paying for that.
Someone else is will have to pay for that. The Paso del Norte Foundation has launched the Downtown Deck Foundation to raise funds for the deck plaza, but I suspect they won’t raise enough money to cover the whole tab, which will run, I figger, into several hundreds of millions of dollars.
(I lifted those images above from the PdN Foundation’s DowntownDeckPlaza.org.)
Maybe the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization will chip in. That’s federal money. I’m always happy to take federal tax money, because someone is going to get it, and it might as well be us, but when the El Paso MPO spends those federal funds, I always want to ask, “What else might they have spent that money on?”
Eventually, I suspect that all those well-meaning folks will turn to the local public sector to chip in with some matching funds.
They’ll tell us that the Downtown Deck Plaza will be “transformative,” like every other downtown project they’ve sold us for the last 20 years. The Deck Plaza will be the one that puts us over the hump, they’ll tell us. Like the Plaza Theatre was supposed to. Like the Union Plaza renaissance. Like the Quality of Life bond projects.
They keep singing us the same song. Only the singers and the words change.
Which brings us to the crux of the decision-making issues. Some people have a vested interest in which projects get funded by these public entities. They might hire lobbyists, or work the horn themselves. They might do some backslapping and handshaking and make some political or philanthropic contributions. They might buy dinner and drinks and be someone’s best friend.
Many of these decisions are made away from the public eye. Many of these decisions are made by committees made up of elected officials. Many of these decisions benefit the select few.
Many of these decisions don’t get the public scrutiny their price tags warrant. Many of these decisions don’t represent the public good.
So we’ll see. Our public officials are spending our tax dollars on what’s good for them, and trying to tell us it’s good for us. We’ve spent the last ten years running up debt with little real advancement.
The problem in El Paso is that we have rich people running the local government and they’re making the poor people pay for their grandiose rich people dreams. And the poor people are either too busy working to worry about it, or they’re brainwashed into thinking that they’re temporarily embarrassed millionaires.
Have mercy on us.