I Could Tolerate the Deck Park, Maybe

I could tolerate the deck park, maybe, if the plans didn’t include widening the freeway, and increasing the traffic coming through downtown.

I could tolerate widening the freeway, maybe, if TxDOT’s models had been based on current traffic, and not data that’s almost ten years old. If the models had included the effect of the Borderland Expressway, the proposed bypass that will go through the Anthony Gap. If El Paso’s population was actually booming, and not stagnating. Like, if we really needed more freeway.

I could tolerate the proposed cap/deck, maybe, if the plans didn’t also include bulldozing lots of real estate, including the Holocaust Museum and some historic apartment buildings, and turning Yandell into a freeway access road.

I could tolerate the deck park, if I knew – knew – that the taxpayers wouldn’t be on the hook for it some time on down the road. I like parks. I like trees. I like sunshine, and fresh air. Throwing a Frisbee. Kicking a ball. But who do you suppose will maintain that park? Not TxDOT. Not the “philanthropists” pulling the levers of government from behind the curtain.

I could tolerate the deck park if MountainStar Sports Group hadn’t announced, way back in 2016, their intention to build a soccer stadium on a deck over the freeway, one year after Ted Houghton retired from his position as Chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission, the civilian authority that presides over the Texas Department of Transportation. I get the idea that this “deck park” has been in the works a long time, and that any “community outreach” was just to rubber stamp a foregone conclusion.

I could tolerate the deck park, maybe, if Ted Houghton hadn’t just said “We’ve been doing a lot of quiet work on this on the political side. The infrastructure bill passed with RAISE grants. Everything’s starting to fall into place but we can’t let up.”

Doesn’t that sound a lot like the ballpark? Weren’t the ballpark promoters working quietly “on the political side”? And didn’t we get shafted then, and aren’t we getting shafted still, by the ongoing expenses of the ballpark?

I could tolerate the deck park if I didn’t know that city officials have been consistently lying to us since 2012, about the cost and benefits of the ballpark, and the costs and benefits of the Quality of Life projects, and the costs and benefits of their imaginative/imaginary vanity projects. They’ve betrayed our trust. Every story out of their mouths is concocted spin. They over-promise and under-deliver. Every time.

The projects that they propose support their world-view, which happens to be different than the world-views of a large segment, dare I say most, of El Pasoans.

I could tolerate the deck park if I didn’t know that every project the politicians propose ends up costing the taxpayer more than the politicians promised without delivering the benefits. They over-promise and under-deliver.

And that might work if El Paso were a city of transients. But the people who live in El Paso are people who have lived in El Paso. We’re not new arrivals. We’re not carpetbaggers. We’re El Pasoans. We’ve noticed the shenanigans that our elected officials have embraced.

Most of our city’s elected officials are professional politicians with dwindling prospects as they reach the ends of their term limits, so they’re beholden to their campaign donors for their continued contributions, as the politicians grasp for a limited number of higher and higher offices.

And those campaign donors, solid businessmen all, only see El Paso’s future in terms of what it means to them, their personal economic growth, ever expanding, because they measure their value in dollars and cents and net financial worth.

I could tolerate the deck park, if it weren’t a gift to the politically connected that the taxpayers will pay for. I could tolerate the deck park, if the citizens wouldn’t have to endure years of inconvenience because of construction on the freeway.

Except for all those things, I could tolerate the deck park.

11 comments

  1. Thank you! I agree – EXCEPT that I cannot tolerate the expansion of the Deck in any case.
    Thanks for speaking out.
    Let’s STOP this madness.

  2. I could tolerate the park IF it didn’t cut the access between north and south of the freeway in half. Nah, I can’t even tolerate the idea that we need to do this. There’s plenty of room in the trench already to widen it to four lanes without putting a roof on it.

  3. Love the effective repetition!!! All excellent points! Let’s STOP the puppeteers!

  4. Politicians that need jobs because no one else will hire them is the problem with El Paso.

  5. The photo the article uses is from Klyde Warren Park, a world-class park cap in downtown Dallas over a busy freeway. It’s magical, one of the finest public facilities I’ve ever seen. For example, the last weekend of October my Mom came to visit my family (wife, two toddlers). Klyde Warren Park hosted a Halloween bash with about 100 vendors giving out chocolate bars, costume contest, live music, a film screening on the lawn, 20+ food trucks, a five-star restaurant AND an affordable snack stand. With TABC certification, adults can drink anywhere. It was one of the best events I’ve ever attended in my life. The funding? TxDOT retrofitted the highway under the park cap, the Klyde Warren Park was paid for by private funding and philanthropy. Today maintenance is funded by the revenue from the five-star restaurant. In 2022, the Klyde Warren Foundation will be working towards an expansion of this incredible facility. Hope El Pasoans can enjoy a park cap in the future!

    1. Sadly I don’t believe any of those factors will be at play in El Paso, where the Deck Park is not just intended to cover an existing freeway but to make expansion of that freeway seem more bearable. Anyone read the story in the EP TImes today about the huge ozone/smog problem in El Paso? Once they expand the traffic ramping through DwnTwn, don’t expect to see those smog clouds blow away.

    2. It is not clear whether you live here, or in Dallas, but either way, you appear to be making the same mistake that is made around here all too often. We are NOT Dallas, or Ft. Worth, or Austin, or San Antonio. We have so many differences, not the least of which is that we are POOR! We have no rich folks here willing to underwrite the cost of such a project. They want us to pony up the cash for their toys so that they can stay rich! Another thing y’all continue to overlook is that the Woodhall Rogers Freeway is not part of the National Interstate system.

  6. I, too, might could tolerate a deck if perhaps TxDOT was left out of the equation. That same TxDOT just finished up a years’ long job where Zaragoza, Montwood, and Loop 375 come together. What they ignored before they started this was that the original design was seriously flawed in that it tried to keep traffic on 2 major thoroughfares flowing in/around/to/from the Loop without more ramps. The current situation is no better than what we had before they started, and sure feels worse! Traffic is still backed up in every direction, and intersections are still being blocked! What was needed to begin with was underpasses and over passes and ramps. Zaragoza traffic should have been sent under the Loop (or over) with either a trench or a ramp, or both. Likewise, Montwood traffic needed to be routed under or over and onto the Loop. I cannot imagine these same people planning a deck any better.

  7. Sadly I’m pretty confident that while we air our concerns about this crazy scheme, The Powers That Decide are carrying on with the original plan….Build More Roads! Anyone think they won’t succeed?

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