In 2023, you could bike from Fort Worth to Dallas

September 21,2019

See full Irving Weekly article by Irving Weekly Staff here.

The decades-long quest to build a seamless pedestrian trail system connecting downtown Fort Worth to downtown Dallas is fully funded and scheduled for completion in 2023, regional mobility planners said.

The roughly 52-mile trail mostly follows the Trinity River, offering a scenic and quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of Metroplex traffic. Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Irving and Dallas have individual trail sections already completed but so far, only two cities, Grand Prairie and Irving, actually connect.

Design work is underway now to fill in the gaps between cities and even connect to the new American Airlines headquarters and the Trinity Railway Express’ Centreport Station.

“We now have a completely funded trail alignment that will connect Fort Worth to Dallas,” said Kevin Kokes, active transportation program manager for the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG). “We’re gradually getting all these gaps closed. It’s really going to be part of a much bigger regional system that connects downtown to downtown.”

The plan for the regional trail, which is part of a larger veloweb, has been planned for decades but really didn’t come together in a coordinated fashion until about 2013 when the mayors of the five cities met with the NCTCOG.

The mayors are working together on the timing, funding and alignment of the various trails so it will be a seamless journey.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, an avid cyclist, said she can’t wait until the inaugural ride across the five cities.

“I’ve been riding for 35 to 40 years,” Price said. “This opens up whole new sections and gives so many more options for an active lifestyle. It’s beautiful to be able to get [to Dallas] from Fort Worth.”

To that end, Kokes said they are working on a unified branding and wayfinding plan to tie the project together.

“No matter where you are, you’ll see you’re part of a larger regional trail,” Kokes said.

Price said there will be a unified trail name but each trail section in each city will retain its own, original name.

“If you put these together with one centralized wayfinding system people will know it’s part of a bigger veloweb,” Price said. “We can have one app that will look at the whole system so people can decide what they want to take.”

Fort Worth has the most trail left to build but will take a giant leap forward this month when the newest section of the Trinity Trails opens. The majority of the trail will be finished by the end of September from Handley Ederville Road to River Trails Park.

The exception will be the trail under Loop 820 where highway construction will delay it for another three years, said Fort Worth park planner Clarence Byrant. That tiny segment under the highway will be built as Loop 820 is expanded and new flyover ramps connecting to State Highway 121 are built.

That next segment from River Trails Park to River Legacy Park will head southeast along the Trinity River to Precinct Line Road. Park planners took input from residents in the Lakes of River Trails who wanted the trail farther away from their private pond on the south end of their neighborhood.

“We took that into consideration and moved it farther south away from the lake,” Bryant said.

From there, the Trinity Lakes Trail will head north on Precinct Line Road through the Trinity Lakes development, where it has the support of the developer. There’s also one private property owner that Fort Worth needs to negotiate with to finish the right-of-way acquisition.

The goal is to start the project toward the end of 2020 and finish it in early 2022, finally connecting to Arlington, Bryant said.

The city is considering different alignments for where the trail will cross Greenbelt Road, Bryant said.

The city of Arlington has finished the majority of its portion of the trail with the completion of River Legacy Park along the Trinity River.

In 2018, voters approved a $2.5 million bond package to fund the remaining trail section that will head west to the city limits, connecting with Fort Worth’s trail. Voters also approved $2.6 million to repair and replace several existing sections of the trail that are prone to flooding or worn out.

Last year, Arlington extended the River Legacy Park trail another half-mile east to the city limits at Texas 360.

From there, the trail continues into far east Fort Worth where it will connect to American Airlines’ new headquarters and Centreport Station.

Design work is underway now for a trail spur that will go parallel to Texas 360, cross under the TRE railroad tracks and then connect to the AA headquarters.

The main trail will go under Texas 360 using the existing highway bridge that crosses the Trinity River, said Jing Yang, Fort Worth project manager and landscape architect.

Construction on phase one from Arlington’s city limit to Centreport Station could start in July, Yang said.

“We are pushing very hard on the project right now,” Yang said. “It’s a very tight schedule. We’re trying to provide a walking access from Centreport to the American Airlines campus. There will be a lot of employees who use that as an alternate way to commute.”

Phase 2 from Centreport Station east to Grand Prairie will be one of the last segments to be completed, likely in 2023.

That trail will likely follow along the TRE tracks to Trinity Boulevard, where it will follow the road south to the Grand Prairie city limits.

From there, the trail will go along Trinity Boulevard to Roy Orr Boulevard until it reaches Mike Lewis Park and the existing Good Link Trail in Grand Prairie. That portion of the trail along Trinity and Roy Orr boulevards will be one of the final sections to finish, Kokes said.

The existing Good Link Trail continues south to Lower Tarrant Road and CP Waggoner Park. Pedestrians and cyclists wishing to continue on the journey to Dallas will head east on Lower Tarrant Road where another trail is planned in conjunction with the extension of Wildlife Parkway.

Grand Prairie plans to extend Wildlife Parkway west across the Trinity River to Lower Tarrant Road in the next few years and the trail will be built alongside it. Construction on that project could start in 2020, said Brett Huntsman, transportation planner for Grand Prairie.

The next phase of the trail will go along the Trinity River through the Wildlife Industrial Park at Wildlife Parkway and Beltline Road in Grand Prairie. Huntsman said that trail will be built by the developer as the next phase of the industrial park is built.

Design work is finishing up and construction could start later this year and be completed in 2020, Huntsman said. That trail will go under Beltline Road, connecting with the existing Lone Star Trail that loops around Lone Star Park and the Theatre at Grand Prairie.

Next, the trail heads east along Hunter Ferrell Road to MacArthur Boulevard where it joins the existing Campion Trail in Irving. That portion of the trail opened in 2015 and connects the Grand Prairie entertainment district to Mountain View Park and multiple neighborhoods.

From there, it’s up to the city of Dallas to take the trail at Trinity View Park east for the final home stretch.

Gene Moulden, Irving planning manager, said the city is planning a canoe launch at Trinity View Park. Design work is going on now.

Irving is also planning to connect the southern and northern sections of the Campion Trail in Las Colinas, more than 5 miles of trail that will be built in three phases, Moulden said. The first phase will pick up at the River Hills Park and head north to Texas 183.

The second phase starts on the north end near California Crossing Park in Las Colinas and heads south. The third phase will be the middle section going through Army Corps of Engineers floodplain areas near the former Texas Stadium site.

This fall, Irving will dedicate a new trail in Valley Ranch that connects to Coppell.

The city of Dallas plans to build a bridge over the Trinity River at Trinity View Park near the cricket field just north of Irving Boulevard. The construction contract has been awarded and, weather permitting, the project could start this fall and finish in April, said Sarah Standifir, director of Trinity Watershed Management.

The Trinity Skyline Trail will then head southeast along the river to Trammell Crow Park at Sylvan Avenue where there’s already an existing trail that goes the rest of the way into the heart of Uptown and downtown Dallas.

Fort Worth, Grand Prairie and Irving are working on another trail plan that follows along the Trinity Railway Express railroad tracks from Centreport Station all the way to Downtown Irving Heritage Crossing Station. Irving started construction earlier this summer on the stretch from West Irving Station to Irby Road along Rock Island Road. The majority of the trail will actually go underneath the elevated tracks in the area, providing a shaded trail.

Fort Worth, Grand Prairie and the rest of Irving’s portion from Irby Road to downtown are not funded.

A separate project will continue the trail southeast along Delaware Creek to Mountain View Park to connect with the existing Campion Trail.

The trail from Rock Island Road south to Centennial Park and Seenter Park is already built. Construction could start this year on the next phase from Seenter Park south to Fritz Park and connecting to Mountain View Park. The trail will be built in coordination with the road improvements on South Nursery Road. That will include converting the sharp turn at Hunter Ferrell Road into an intersection with a traffic light.

This 12-mile trail would be a more direct route rather than winding through all the river trails, Moulden said.

“You could do either one once it’s all set and done,” Moulden said.

Presented by Star Telegram,September 13, 2019