When he lived in Fort Worth, Steve Gray would periodically ride his bike on Fort Worth’s Trinity Trails to work at Lockheed Martin, events such as the Main St. Arts Festival and even to jury duty.
Gray, president of the Fort Worth Bicycling Association, said the ever-expanding system is exciting, especially for cyclists who will be able to access trails out of their neighborhoods.
“There’s all kinds of connections that those trails provide to people, linking them together,” said Gray, who now lives in Palo Pinto County. “They’re great to get out of your neighborhood and ride long distances.”
While many trails are already in place, the dream of connecting Fort Worth to Dallas along the Trinity River will take a huge leap forward in the next two years.
Park planners in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Irving and Dallas are all working together to fill in the gaps along the nearly 60-mile route.
There’s been a master plan for decades and large sections of the trail are already built. Now, it’s the hardest and most expensive pieces that remain.
“It really took the five mayors coming together to make it a priority,” said Karla Weaver, a program manager for the North Central Texas Council of Governments. “We’re almost there to having everything funded for design for sure.”
Fort Worth: Three projects ready to go
Construction is expected to start on two projects this year and another in 2019.
The first would connect Gateway Park to Quannah Parker Park along First Avenue. Design work will start this year and construction could begin in 2019 on the $1 million project.
Rather than build a new bridge, the trail would cross the Trinity River using the old First Street bridge, said Joel McElhany, capital program manager for Fort Worth’s Parks and Recreation Department.
“The project scope includes assessment of the structural condition of the bridge, refurbishment of the bridge for use as a pedestrian/bicycle trail bridge and making the connections to the bridge,” McElhany said.
Construction will start this month on a new trail going from Quanah Parker Park east to Handley Ederville Road. The $2.6 million project will include a low-water crossing over an existing spillway.
The 2-mile trail is scheduled for completion in August.
Just as that project wraps up, the next phase will start to extend the trail east to River Trails Park. The 3.5-mile project is scheduled to start in October and be finished by June 2018. The cost is $2.8 million.
That still leaves a 4-mile gap between Fort Worth’s trails and the western terminus of River Legacy Park in Arlington that’s unfunded. The city will partner with the developer of the Trinity Lakes project to build the remaining section.
“We currently do not have funding for design and construction of this trail segment,” McElhany said. “However, we are looking at funding opportunities, including grants and future bond programs in an effort to build this last section of trail.”
Arlington: Trail design about finished
Arlington’s River Legacy Park will need to grow on both ends to meet up with Fort Worth.
The western extension is unfunded, for now. But De’Onna Garner, park planning manager for the city of Arlington, said the city could apply for a grant in February to help fund that portion.
Things are moving much faster on the east side, though.
Construction is scheduled to start this summer on the eastern extension of the River Legacy Park trail to Texas 360. The half-mile stretch will cost $1.1 million and is mostly funded by a federal grant from the Transportation Alternatives Program.
The trail design, including two bridges, is 90 percent finished, she said. Arlington will put the construction contract out for bid in July. Construction could start by August and would take about a year to finish.
Arlington’s extension will stop at the highway, but the trail will cross back into Fort Worth, where it splits in two.
The main trail will go under the Texas 360 bridge, then follow the highway north to the Trinity Railway Express tracks, said Naoto Kumazawa, senior landscape architect for the city of Fort Worth.
From there, the exact path is still undetermined but Kumazawa said one option is to use a railroad bridge to go under the existing train tracks. The main trail would continue east along the tracks to connect to Trinity Boulevard and the border with Grand Prairie. That trail would also connect to the nearby Centreport TRE/DART Station.
The goal is to connect the trail to mass transit so workers would have the option of riding the train. The project will cost an estimated $2.6 million. There’s no timeline for this project.
Fort Worth also plans a spur connecting the trail to the new American Airlines headquarters under construction on Trinity Boulevard, though funding and the exact route haven’t been determined, Kumazawa said.
Grand Prairie: Good Link Trail gaps
The Good Link Trail has already completed a good section of the needed trail network in Grand Prairie but gaps remain to the north and east.
To the north, the trail will go from Mike Lewis Park, north on Roy Orr Boulevard, turn west on Trinity Boulevard to connect with the city of Fort Worth. The cities and NCTCOG are still working on the exact route this section will take.
Tim Shinogle, park planning and development manager for Grand Prairie, said it’s a conceptual design and no firm schedule has been decided.
The southern section is much better defined.
Dallas County plans to widen and extend Wildlife Parkway west across the Trinity River so it intersects with Lower Tarrant Road and the President George Bush Turnpike.
The Good Link Trail will then be extended east along the new Wildlife Parkway, across the Trinity River. This joint project between Grand Prairie and Dallas County is scheduled to start in 2018 and be completed by 2020.
From there, the trail will follow the Trinity River through the Wildlife Commerce Park.
Crow Holdings Industrial, who is developing the industrial warehouses, will construct the 1.7-mile trail segment from Wildlife Parkway to Beltline Road, where it will intersect with the existing Lone Star Trail.
Irving: Campion Trail connections
In 2015, Irving and Grand Prairie connected the Lone Star Trail to the Campion Trail along Hunter Ferrell Road. Now, the southern section of the Campion Trail connects seamlessly to the Mountain Creek Preserve and Trinity View Park.
That completes Irving’s share of a so-called Fort Worth to Dallas route.
There’s still a 6-mile gap between the northern and southern segments of the Campion Trail that needs to be built.
The trail will follow the Trinity River Authority right-of-way, connecting south Irving to north Irving. The TRA has been building a 108-inch diameter pipeline along that route for several years and the work was delayed by flooding in 2015, said Casey Tate, director of the capital improvements program department for the city of Irving.
The pipeline is expected to be finished later this year.
“That will open the door to implementing the connection between the two segments of Campion Trails,” Tate said.
In far north Irving, the city secured funding from a Dallas County grant to extend the Campion Trail north to Valley Ranch and Coppell, Tate said. The city is also exploring a connection to Farmers Branch., Tate said.
Dallas: Project under design
The final piece of the journey into Dallas is currently under design and scheduled to start construction in 2018, said Jared White, transportation planner.
The 4.5-mile trail will start with a bridge over the Elm Fork of the Trinity River where it will connect with Irving’s Campion Trail at Trinity View Park.
The trail will head east along Trinity River bed to Trammel Crow Park at Sylvan Avenue.
From there, cyclists, runners and walkers can choose a plethora of other Dallas trails.