Soon, bulldozers will start clearing the path for the next phase of Arlington’s River Legacy Park trail east to Texas Highway 360, a nine-month project funded by federal Transportation Alternative Program grants.
While this half-mile stretch of 12-foot-wide concrete looks small in the grand scheme of the Metroplex, the project is part of a larger vision for a regional pedestrian and bicycle trail that spans more than 60 miles. Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Irving and Dallas are working together to build a trail system that connects the five cities along the Trinity River.
Some of the parks have been there for decades, isolated from other trails. The effort to connect those trails has accelerated in recent years with many exciting park projects taking shape.
“We’re getting really close,” said Kevin Kokes, principal transportation planner with the North Central Texas Council of Governments. “Over the last few years we’ve been successful in identifying funding for several segments in each of the cities. There are a lot of things that are starting to come together.”
Here’s a rundown of the projects from west to east that will someday be part of a seamless trail network.
Fort Worth already has an extensive trail network along the Trinity River, including a new trail that opened recently. The seamless trail network follows the river around downtown and heads south. But more trails need to be built, including one that could be on the May bond election.
There are plans to connect Gateway Ball Park to Quanah Parker Park northeast of downtown Fort Worth. That $1 million trail is funded and under design now and will start construction in the summer of 2019, said Joel McElhany, capital program manager for the city of Fort Worth.
The trail will follow along East 1st Street. The street was completely rebuilt and realigned just to the north of the old road, McElhany said. The old vehicular bridge was saved and will be refurbished into a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Trinity River.
Farther to the east, Fort Worth has extended the trail at Quanah Parker Park to Handley Ederville Road.
Fort Worth is expected to start construction this year on another 3-mile section from Handley Ederville Road to River Trails Park, McElhany said.
Continuing east, the next phase of the trail passes through the Trinity Lakes mixed-use development. The route hasn’t been determined, yet, and the trail will require a large bridge over the Trinity River, McElhany said. The city will partner with Gateway Planning, the Trinity Lakes developer, to get the trail built.
Fort Worth is planning a bond election this May that could include $4 million to fund the connection from River Trails Park to River Legacy Park in Arlington. This February, the Fort Worth City Council will make the final decision on which projects will be on the bond election.
This will likely be one of the final pieces to be built in the region-wide trail network.
Arlington’s River Legacy Park trail stretches seven miles, almost the entire length of the city from west to east. There’s a short section within the city limits on the west side that will need to be built when Fort Worth builds the trail through Trinity Lakes. That will connect the two cities on the west side.
“That’s in the planning stages right now,” said Eric Seebock, park planner with the city of Arlington.
Then, on the east side, there’s the half-mile trail extension that just started construction to Texas Highway 360. The project will take the trail to the eastern city limits.
From there, the river goes under Texas Highway 360 where it enters Fort Worth city limits again. The plan is to go under the highway at the bridge, connect to Arlington’s River Legacy and then head east to the Centreport Station, where pedestrians and cyclists could catch the Trinity Railway Express train, McElhaney said.
This trail is still in the early schematic design stage and the final route where it crosses the railroad tracks hasn’t been determined. The trail could go under a railroad bridge or it might be routed over the tracks at a maintenance crossing near the train station.
“We’ll have a better idea here in the coming months,” McElhaney said.
The main trail will continue east parallel to the railroad tracks to Trinity Boulevard, where it will head south. Then, it will head south to Roy Orr Road where it will continue into Grand Prairie.
Grand Prairie has trails connecting several parks along the river already but there are still some gaps to fill.
Grand Prairie is considering two different routes for the trail as it heads south along Roy Orr Road but both have drawbacks, said Tim Shinogle, park planning and development manager for Grand Prairie.
One option would be to head south and build a bridge over the Trinity River to connect to the Good Link trails at Mike Lewis Park.
“The cost of this bridge is three times the cost of the rest of the trail,” Shinogle said.
The other option would be to follow Oncor’s transmission lines east under the President George Bush Turnpike to Hardrock Road, where the trail would head south to Wildlife Parkway.
This would require permission from Oncor, which can take years. The trail would also go through some flood prone areas.
Regardless of which route that phase takes, Grand Prairie is moving full speed ahead on the next section of trail. As part of that project, Grand Prairie will build a trail next to the road, extending the Good Link Trail east.
The project is scheduled to start in early 2019 and will take two years to complete.
From there, the trail will head south along the Trinity River through the Wildlife Commerce Business Park. Several new warehouses have been built on the site in recent years, raising the property value in the area, which contributes to the tax increment finance district in place there, Shinogle said.
That trail will go under Beltline Road where it connects to the existing Lone Star Park Trail near the horse track of the same name.
In 2015, Irving and Grand Prairie worked together to connect the Lone Star Park trail to the Campion Trail along Hunter Ferrell Road. That trail opened in 2015, providing a seamless connection that follows the river for several miles.
Now Irving and Dallas are working together for the next phase that will connect the two cities.
Dallas already has extensive trails along the Trinity River.
What’s missing is a link to Irving’s Campion Trails over the Trinity River. The proposed bridge will be north of Irving Boulevard at Trinity View Park in Irving, said Casey Tate, director of the capital improvement program at Irving.
“Dallas has indicated that they intend to connect to Irving in the next 12 to 18 months,” Tate said.
The new Trinity Skyline Trail will head south along the river to meet up with existing trails at Sylvan Avenue.
The new trail is under design now and scheduled to start construction this year, said Jared White, bicycle transportation manager for the city of Dallas.