Intercity bike trail part of North Texas transportation plan

12/27/2013 7:35 PM

12/27/2013 7:36 PM

Five cities in North Texas coming together in support of a major transportation initiative is welcome news, worthy of celebrating and spreading.

Although some may find the proposal a novel idea — and there will be those who definitely won’t like the concept — Mayor Betsy Price’s plan of linking Fort Worth and Dallas through an inter-city bicycle trail is imaginative, bold and practical.

The linkage naturally would include connecting with trails in three cities in between (Arlington, Irving and Grand Prairie), and would provide access to the Trinity Railway Express. The mayors of all five cities have given their approval of the plan.

It would be more than a transportation alternative for those who want to commute to jobs and retail shops in the area, as such a network of trails would offer health benefits through use for exercise. And it would promote economic development.

Price, who pitched the idea to the North Central Texas Council of Governments, emphasizes that the cost of the multimillion-dollar project will be paid with state and federal grants, some of which cities can begin applying for as early as February. It could take up to 10 years to build the 34 additional miles of trail needed to complete the system.

For those concerned that too much effort goes into supporting infrastructure for bike riders, the mayor points out that these paths will be used by walkers, people with scooters and those with motorized wheelchairs, making more sites accessible to many more people.

Price and others have been thinking about such a plan for years, but after she presented it to the council of governments, NCTCOG ran with it by studying current infrastructure in the five cities, figuring how where connectors should go to bring the trails together and then communicating with the mayors about making it happen.

There is a larger vision once the east-west trail is completed. The council of governments’ staff already is thinking about how to link cities to the north and south.

For an area the size of North Texas, with its rapid growth pattern, the issue of transportation must be addressed on many fronts and in some non-conventional ways.

This is one way to help meet the growing needs.

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