Real Estate

Over the River and Between the Levees: A Closer Look at Katy Trail-to-Bishop Arts Trinity Trail

True to his word, Jason Roberts just posted to Better Block more info about his plans for a trail connecting the Katy Trail to the Bishop Arts District, which we first mentioned in late June. But, of course, Roberts isn't doing this alone: It's a massive operation involving, among others, Groundwork Dallas, the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association and even city officials, from bike coordinator Max Kalhammer to the Trinity Watershed Management Department. For starters.

And, as you may recall, it was council member Angela Hunt who asked the Better Block-ers if they even could create such a thing -- a nine-mile-long "quick win" for a Trinity River project stalled out somewhere between the levees.

"My goal is to get people believing in the Trinity Project again," Hunt tells Unfair Park this evening. "To get them excited about it. Jason and Andrew [Howard] and DORBA and Groundwork Dallas and all the others, they've been amazing partners to work with. It's so fun to work with people who want to get things happening quickly and know how to make it happen."

Roberts, with words and pictures, explains how this'll work on his website; no need to repeat what a click will reveal. But when we spoke this evening, he did explain that while he hopes to have the trail clear-cut and open for business in a matter of weeks, there are some issues that could delay that. Such as: the closing of the roller-coasting Sylvan Avenue bridge, which is about to take you higher but also cut off access to Trammell Crow Park and the Sylvan Boat Ramp; and the Santa Fe Trestle construction, which you should know all about by now.

"We may need a ramp because of the construction with the Sylvan bridge that kicks off soon, which means our access from Crow Park is gone," says Roberts. "The Trinity Watershed Management will need another access point, though, so we're working with them to create a shared access point, and we'll utilize that. We're trying to nail down the actual landing spot too."

Right now, the trail being carved out between the levees would go from where the Katy Trail meets the Trinity Strand, near the Meddlesome Moth in the Design District; wind through the levees and around the pockets of when-they're-wetlands; then pop out around where the Houston Street Viaduct turns into Zang near the Oak Farm Dairy, then shoot up Zang to 7th to Bishop Arts.

"What Angela wanted was to connect Bishop Arts with the Katy Trail, half on-street and half off-street," says Roberts. "Fortunately the Dallas Bike Plan got developed, so we have precedence to develop the on-street piece. Once we see more routes, we may have to do a little bit of fund-raising to cover costs for any gaps we might have. And right now it's all volunteer.

"And Angela wants to be able to take a stroller through the levees. Making it for mountain bikes is easy -- bumps and lumps are something we'd look forward to. But these guys are trying to make it accessible for all."

That's exactly right, says Hunt, who's now a member of the council's Trinity River Corridor Project Committee -- along with Scott Griggs, another toll road opponent and one of Roberts's closest friends.

"This trail is going to let you get down in the Trinity River basin, which has been too inaccessible for far too long, and I am really exited about this trail. I view it as Phase One of a longer-term project, which is to get a permanent concrete trail down there as quickly as possible. That's our next step. And the city will pay for it. We need to use already approved Trinity bond funds for that. We can find it. Its just a matter of making those decisions. But the great part of is, thanks to Jason and DORBA and Groundwork Dallas, we've already identified the trail itself, so we know where it's going to go. We don't need to build scale models or bring in expensive consultants. We can simply get it built."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky