Last June, Angela Hunt and Scott Griggs went to the Trinity River Overlook and gazed down at the empty floodplain below. Wouldn't it be nice, they thought, if there was a network of trails down there that came up and over the levee and connected with all of Dallas' other trails.
It was a thought, but not much more than that. The original Trinity River Project had nothing about trails crisscrossing the flood plain, and given the miserly city budget there was zero chance that funding for something extra would suddenly materialize. There seemed little room, too, in the austere 2012 bond package, which City Manager Mary Suhm promised would be focused exclusively on the most basic of infrastructure projects.
But then the city discovered it had room for another $42 million in the bond program, $2.8 million for each council member and the mayor. Hunt and Griggs knew what they wanted to put it toward building trails along the Trinity and opening the floodplain, the closest thing Dallas has to a wilderness, for public enjoyment. They detailed their plan to Mayor Mike Rawlings, who agreed to chip in $500,000. Hence, the press conference this morning announcing a $6.1 million concrete trail running between the levees. You can see the map above.
"The dream here is to really connect our entire city and the river with a great system of hike and bike trails," Griggs said.
The trail won't actually be a trail but a paved levee maintenance roads accessible to bike and foot traffic. City vehicles will be given priority, but there won't be many of them. Encountering them, Hunt said, is like finding an endangered species.
It was a bit odd to see Hunt and Griggs standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Rawlings for an announcement about the Trinity. They famously disagree on a certain flood-prone hunk of concrete planned by the river, but there they were, with Trinity River Corridor Project committee chair Voincel Jones Hill as well. You could almost hear them humming kumbaya.
"Regardless of the our position on the toll road, what you see today is all of us coming together for the greater vision of the Trinity River," Hunt said.
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And, in case you were wondering, Rawlings does support the non-toll road portions of the Trinity River project. Like those lakes wonderful Trinity Lakes, and the Elm Fork Soccer Complex which will prompt "people from all over the world will come to play here." The gun range down there is really nice, by the way.
And what's Mayor Mike's position on the Texas Horse Park? "I have studied that closely, and I am behind that as well."
Hill closed out the press conference. She talked about the basic human connection to rivers, referencing Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and her native Mississippi. For too long, the Trinity has been ignored and forgotten. No longer.
"It's not just Tom and Huckleberry" who have access to the river now, Hill said. Now, it's open to "all the Bubbas and Berthas in Dallas."