Behold: A Trinity River Park Plan That Actually Makes Sense

How do you actually make an impact on the Trinity River? Make it small, cheap and fast.

The concept of human scale is a requirement in every aspect of the process. This has to be done quickly so that people can use it within the time-frame of their own lives, and cheaply so the money won't become an insoluble problem. And it needs to be of a size that doesn't dwarf and intimidate people.

It needs to be sustainable, too—easy to maintain, easy to change, no big deal if people stop using it and it needs to go away. But it needs to be huge in its impact on the life of the city.

Hunt says the trail project would require "some kind of consensus" from the city council, but she's a little vague on what kind. She says there is no cost estimate yet, but she says the total cost for the trails should be "less than one swanky party," a jab at the business community's high-society approach to the rest of the Trinity River project.

Hunt is the veteran on Trinity issues, and Griggs is the neophyte. In 2007, Hunt led a campaign to stop the city from building a high-speed, limited-access highway inside the area now proposed as a park. A citywide referendum to ban the road from the park failed at the polls, leaving open the possibility that the highway still could be built there.

But not long after backers of the highway won the election, their project, like the rest of the grand vision for Switzerland on the Trinity, sank into a bog of environmental and fiscal problems.

Hunt says those problems aren't what she hears about when people talk to her about the Trinity River Project. What rankles the public, she says, is that nothing gets done. The Zilch Problem. How can it be that in all this time, with all of these people talking and all of this money spent, the results are still zilch?

"I think the public has become so disillusioned by the delays on the project that it has become critical to provide some immediate benefit to the average citizen that they can see and feel and touch down in the Trinity River basin," she told me last week. "Instead of waiting for the grand vision, the chain of lakes, the meandering river, the toll road, the bridges, let's get something done here and now that will draw people to the Trinity River."

So what would it be, exactly? Hunt and Griggs are talking about taking the existing scattered bike and hiking trails that the city has developed already and connecting them to a new system of trails on both sides of the river, around where the river extends from Northwest Dallas into the Great Trinity Forest in Southern Dallas.

We're talking about two years from now, max. Imagine that you live in an apartment somewhere near Mockingbird Station, at Central Expressway and Mockingbird. You jump on your bike, ride a short distance to the top of the Katy Trail, take the Katy three and a half miles down to the West End, then jump over the levee and find yourself on a trail along the river.

Oh, man, it's hot out! You're dry! You're dusty! What are we going to do for you? Does the city need to bring in a hot-and-dusty consultant to do a master plan for a food pavilion requiring $40 million in bond funds and a seven-year build-out?

Could do that. Or, as Hunt suggests, we get some of those Hispanic pushcart guys down there to sell paletas, the Mexican fruit popsicles. Those guys could make money off the bike riders, soccer players, kite flyers, escapees from the jail and whoever else is down there.

We spend no money. Starts tomorrow.

Remember a key point about this whole idea: In terms of how this will affect your actual day-to-day life in Dallas, this will be way bigger than any other single thing the city of Dallas has done ever. It will change living in Dallas from an all-indoors, air-conditioned, drinking and shopping experience to a life with its own entirely unique and very gnarly outdoor aspect.

And this huge change will be brought about by a project that will be deliberately small and quick.

"This is the direction the city needs to start going," Griggs told me, "going from big plans with long horizons to small projects."

Hunt and Griggs think their idea is so low-impact that it won't stir up any political controversy. Me, I'm not as cheery a person as they are. I fully anticipate that some people in Dallas will oppose this idea precisely because it is not expensive enough and does not involve a foreign architect, therefore making people in the great capitals of the world think we're poor.

But I would love to be wrong.

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40 comments
Catfish
Catfish

MY THOUGHTS,Fear makes people couch potatoes. Build the trail. The police will come in droves on their bikes and horses just to get a chance to spend the day riding along the Trinity. Close the trail at night if you must. Just get it built, it's way over due. Dallas might actualy have something worth bragging about. Do something that enrichs the live of the people, instead of the developers. It's worth doing. A hex on the nay sayers.Where do I sign up?

Rowerobert1948
Rowerobert1948

I'm all for it ! Just find out where they can find the police to patrol it ! They can't patrol the city/ talk about the bottem ! give me a break !!

txnomad
txnomad

In another article on this site, the author trashes Austin, but doesn't mention the hike and bike trail around Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake). That draws people from all around the Austin area and didn't cost much to build. Not sure if something like that would work in Dallas, but if the cost is really low, it sure seems like it's worth a try.

Dbridegam
Dbridegam

Where do i sign up? I might even buy a bike.D.BridegamOak Cliff

wkar
wkar

Zounds az zexy az the LA River.

Jeriwray
Jeriwray

Will there by park police security? I remember the "Trinity River Bottom" is where people used to have people drive to when they'd hijacked them in their cars, and then they'd shoot them there. Why? Because it was deserted and the police would never find anybody there.

Ed3_fla
Ed3_fla

Nice idea, but it seems like an inordinate amount of unpatrolled space. And you have the prior poster who wants to take his ATV & dirt bike. Kinda scary for a hiker or bicyclist, not to mention the wildlife. These are legit issues that need to be addressed.

LocalMountainBiker
LocalMountainBiker

http://www.groundworkdallas.or... (.org NOT .com) is the correct url.Sounds like the 2 people interviewed in this article need to contact the 2 people listed on that web site and coordinate their efforts.dorba.org would be a great organization to get involved in this too. Dallas Off Road Biking Association.

havaseat
havaseat

Actualy all that used to exist along with deep woods beer BBQ joints , Ahh the good old days, then dallas got envolved , locks everywhere trails ,access closed, say that to fork up worms is jail time per code now. Do your work in winter all those pretty vines are poison ivy an oak/ sumac, Used to ride from lewisville to south dallas squirle an duck shooting never leave river bank/

GAA
GAA

I'm excited about the new trails. I have to ride my dirtbike or four wheeler to enjoy the Trinity River.

Texasbubba2
Texasbubba2

WOOHOO! I love Dallas for changing! I'm so glad there are people considering, talking, and discussing practical possibilities for the Trinity River. I know I will be one of the first trail-bikers to enjoy it. Thanks for considering alternative solutions for an immediate impact on peoples lives, such as mine.

alex
alex

What's with the overt religious intent? I hope Jesus can turn sewage into water.

Stephanie Garmon
Stephanie Garmon

Check out www.groundworkdallas.com for what we at Groundworkdallas are working towards as far as the biking and hiking trails go. All of this costs volunteers (bunches) and donations. As a board member of Groundworkdallas I want to encourage the citizens of our community to help out and build toward the can be beauty of the Great Trinity Forest. Wanna know more? Come join us at the Green Elephant on Saturday, June 25 for a crayfish broil, beer and the music of the Bryan Hughes Band....just one of our campaigns for contributions. Cost for fun and drink on Saturday? 20 Bucks at the Door....if you will call the Groundworkdallas office ahead of time to help us with a head count -- it would assist in our not running out of all that good stuff!Stephanie Garmon

Roadstar1000
Roadstar1000

Angela finally has somebody she can work with !

Hood75180
Hood75180

Yep . Another Boondoggle perpetrated on the Tax Payers . Pure waste of Taxpayers money . And that over priced ugly thing called a bridge is definitely included in this Boondoggle . Clean up the " Dumper's messes " all along the sewer infested waters from the head waters to the Houston Ship channel before ya spend any more money on studies and such . Clean & dredge the river for better flow all the way to the Houston Ship Channel before ya spend any more money on this monster mess . Then put the money into rebuilding the styreets / highways in Dallas County . Priorities by the political leaders are totally against the People who pay the taxes and need the benefits that good infrastructure would bring . D. H.

db
db

I believe that there have been a number of people advocating this plan for some time - really nice to see it now getting some push.

bob fairlane
bob fairlane

Why does it have to be Mexicans selling ice cream? Why not Americans selling ice cream?

Harvey
Harvey

"The people who go out there now and help to create these trails will be pioneers on virgin terrain." Remember that a lot of pioneers back in the day were scalped (with mean weapons) or mauled (by mean animals). Pioneering the Trinity may not be a picnic. The city better plan to manage some protections to keep the river inviting. Facing down an alligator gar (or gator for that matter) beneath the kayaker fodder flume is nothing like being face to face with a 300 pound mama pig in the backwoods. Also, dirt erodes - compacted or not. I hope they plan on a continual rebuilding plan for the trail after the annual floods.

Juan Valdez
Juan Valdez

Genious. I'd like to ride from Bachman Lake all the way down to downtown. When I get there, I'd like to drink some water (Perrier if I were to choose). Then ride the Green Line on the way back.If you get me to this....I think its a success!!!This is real grass roots and I think if marketed properly, it could be triumphant.

Ben
Ben

The only stumbling blocks are how would they get around the scrap metal yards on the north side of the river, downstream of the Corinth Street Bridge. On the south side is the massive wastewater treatment facility that takes up all of the real estate between the Cedar Crest Bridge and I-45. That is the major hurdle in connecting the levee trail, Katy Trail on the north side of the river and the Coombs Creek Trail in Oak Cliff with the trails downstream.

Trails, some really nice, already exist that start as far south as I-20@ Dowdy Ferry, north to McCommas Bluff Preserve on the north bank, to the Trinity River Audubon Center, across some old abandoned roads to the future Texas Horse Park. From there things get a little murky in the trespassing department because while the city has recently purchased the land between Elam Road and Rochester Park, the former owners still treat it as their own land, graze livestock, plant crops etc.

At any rate, one can ride a bicycle or walk from the Buckeye Trailhead at Bexar Street and go all the way to I-20 and never cross a road other than the Trinity River Audubon Center driveway.

On the southside of the river, one can ride a bike, today, from where Overton Road dead ends into Old Central Expressway, down the Chain of Wetlands, across Loop 12, down the brand new Trinity River Trail(paved) and into the Joppa Preserve all the way to a place where you can view McCommas Bluff.

The northern trailheads for all of this can be reached in less than 30 minutes from the Spillway at White Rock Lake or even the south end of the Katy Trail.

Wilhelm
Wilhelm

Dallas government leaders are insane.As the Trinity River is really beautiful during times of flooding, those seemingly beautiful bayous down in Houston are truly ugly during such horrific events. They also see ugly warehouses in and around central Dallas when those single story buildings are equally beautiful in producing small companies and jobs. Instead, they want to raze those ugly warehouses and their jobs so that they can visualize developing highrise condominiums no one can afford and skyscrapers that will never be filled. Insane.The city of Dallas has become like a chimp who is carrying too many bananas in its arms. Because it has too many, it can't eat any of them.

Catbird
Catbird

You are not wrong.

When Madame Dallas and her friends return from Bern (usually in late August) they will do all they can to stop this crazy subversive plan because they know the power of urban patterns, at work in the human mind and heart, translate directly into political power. I suspect that Ms. Hunt and Mr. Griggs know the same thing.

He who writes the pattern language of the city shall control the city. Check www.patternlanguage.com for the source code.

TimCov
TimCov

I admit, I like the idea of just building some dirt trails and postponing/canceling most of the other projects. They could take the money saved and actually repair the levees.

As to getting people outside, good luck with that. To many people can not handle the heat. But, I would enjoy riding my bike down the many miles of empty trails.

havaseat
havaseat

Hell of lot easier to go to tat shop for river tat to fish in than getting small wheel chair pad and ramp , Placed in callifornia crossing park. For the few that go there and get dumped accessing the shade By the way theres fair bike trails across the street. TP@W will not even drop few fish for kids. to catch, Says they rely on natural mother nature to move fish.. Guess she took up trail riding instead/

Advtim2000
Advtim2000

I cannot believe that you people don't think we need another performing arts amphetheater. Or another dog park or childrens play area with hot metal things for the little dears to slide on. Crape Mertles. Are we not going to have rows of Creap Mertles? Im sure Dean Fearing or Monica would do a 4 star restaurant. Oh, dont forget the concrete. Lots of concrete and public art picked by a commettee of HP houswives, developers and cleargy. I just don't see a natural park with just trees and grasses. I mean, damn, this is Dallas, this is Glitter Gulch

Sharon Boyd
Sharon Boyd

Scott Griggs is going to rock on the city council. He is not intimidated by anyone and does not back down.

Atticus
Atticus

I think I'll be opening up several shops offering Concealed to Carry licenses for the bicyclists living in the West End and Uptown...

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

Well, halleluyah! Only 13 years and hundreds of millions of dollars have passed.......

Feldnick
Feldnick

Well, that's the thing, isn't it?We don't do ANYTHING in this city unless it will make someone richer. The thought of doing something for the average citizen of Dallas, simply because it will improve the quality of life for everyone, regardless of their contribution to the local economy....that simply isn't a good enough reason to initiate capital improvement. And yet, these are EXACTLY the types of improvements that impact 'quality of life' most profoundly. The power-brokers in this city are obsessed with monoliths of shiny metal and glass, and they are convinced that Dallas will only emerge as an "international city" if the birth canal is designed by someone named Calatrava.

just sayin
just sayin

dorba????? seriously????? D O R B A SUX.

grizzie
grizzie

He didn't say "Mexicans" selling ice cream. He referred to "Hispanic pushcart guys." Hispanics, whether pushcart guys or not, can be Americans too.

Lizy
Lizy

Bob Americans aren't going to sell ice cream because Americans are to lazy that's why. Americans are spoiled people that don't like to work very hard.

Ben
Ben

You can already do this.

From Bachman Lake, go down Shorecrest about 2 blocks till it dead ends at Harry Hines.

Go down this dirt road, where the levees start:

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=...

At the Westmoreland Bridge use the old bridge underneath the new one to cross the river. Head down to Corinth Street Dart Station if you want to take the train back. Faster to just ride your bike back along the lower levee road though. You would be amazed how fast you can get from one place to another along the levees since there are not any stop lights or traffic to deal with.

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

The financial burden of the Levee repairs is probably the real reason behind this "low cost" approach.

Me
Me

HAHA

That is funny, but so true

bob fairlane
bob fairlane

Maybe you are a spoiled lazy person. Speak for yourself, anti-American #.

 
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