Five North Texas mayors walk into a room. After some glad-handing and small talk, Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck launches into a soliloquy.
"In the city of Arlington, we are constantly looking for new ways to encourage the community to sustain an active lifestyle," he begins. Residents should be made aware of the "benefits of getting your heart rate up and increasing blood circulation throughout the body ..."
Here, Cluck is interrupted by Dallas' Mike Rawlings and Grand Prairie's Ron Jensen who are doing a poor job of choking back laughter. Irving's Beth Van Duyne and Fort Worth's Betsy Price shift uncomfortably and glance at the door. They relax only a little when they discover he's referring to bicycling.
The scene probably didn't play out quite like that. Cluck's speech, and these other quotes, were probably just typed up after the fact, and any double entendre, we're sure, was purely unintentional.
But the mayors did actually meet, and the came up with a plan: to connect Downtown Dallas and Downtown Fort Worth with an unbroken, 64-mile stretch of bike trail.
Nearly half of that distance -- about 30 miles -- already exists in the form of municipal trails like the Campion Trail in Irving and the trails along the Trinity in Arlington and Fort Worth. Another 10 miles, like Dallas' Trinity Strand Trail, has funding.
Building the remaining 24 miles will take $30 million, according to the North Central Texas of Governments, which is helping coordinate the project. The mayors didn't figure out where the cash will come from -- they're in charge of vision, not details -- but they did promise to look. They also took a group picture.
Karla Weaver, a transportation planner with the NCTCOG, says the agency is opening up a $28 million call for projects in February for its transportation alternatives program. "This will be a great opportunity for cities to apply for funds and I think they will also be working within their own budgets or through other grants in the future from agencies such as TxDOT or the Texas Parks and Wildlife."
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There's no timeline at the moment, either, but there is a very wide map:
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.