Find out how a ‘superhighway of trails’ connecting Fort Worth to Dallas will affect North Texas
In a way, it’s taken 10 years to bike from downtown Fort Worth to downtown Dallas. That journey could become much more manageable soon.
A regional trail connecting the cities of Fort Worth, Dallas, Arlington, Grand Prairie and Irving is set to be completed in late 2023 or early 2024, a decade after it was first proposed. The North Central Texas Council of Governments is currently soliciting name and logo branding ideas for the 66-mile trail.
With the end finally in sight for the ambitious project, here’s what to expect going forward.
What is the trail?
The 66-mile trail from downtown Fort Worth to downtown Dallas was first discussed in November 2013 during a meeting between the cities of Fort Worth, Dallas, Irving, Arlington, Grand Prairie and the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
The project builds on already existing trails in each of the five major cities and connects them. The goal is to promote a safe way to bike and walk from Fort Worth to Dallas, passing through the suburbs, according to the council of governments.
Karla Windsor, a senior project manager at the North Central Texas Council of Governments, describes the project as “the superhighway of trails.”
The southern alignment portion of the project is under construction and fully funded. A portion of the northern alignment remains to be funded and reconstructed as the final piece. That part is expected to take a bit longer to complete, Windsor said.
How much does it cost and how is it being funded?
Since 2013, about $41 million has gone into this project. Funded by local, state and federal dollars, the Regional Transportation Council awarded $26 million toward the project. The remaining $15 million came through a combination of city funds, developer funds and the Texas Department of Transportation.
“It’s been cobbled together from a lot of sources over the years,” Windsor said. “It takes a little bit here, a little bit there. And finally, you’re able to fully fund it.”
How does this meet the growing needs of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex? What’s in it for Fort Worth?
As the area approaches nearly 7 million people, the regional trail project could bring transportation, health and air quality benefits.
The trail also offers different modes of transportation to residents to get to their destinations, Windsor said.
“We just think this is one more level to put into the matrix of choices,” she said. “It’s an important one, and this one connects our heavy commuter rail system, it connects to various places of interest. It’s an alternative path to get there.”
Will it bring any revenue?
The project’s vision is to create a partnership through the trail that encourages economic development and ecotourism as well as recreation and sporting events.
Participating cities are now looking at ways to bring trail-oriented development. Cities like Dallas have already looked at possible ways to attract restaurants and hotels near trails.
A 2017 University of North Texas study showed that in 2016, the Trinity Trails brought in $16 million to the local economy and helped create or retain 200 jobs.
Windsor said the goal is for the trail to be eventually state- and nationally recognized, with hopes of bringing people to the area to visit nearby amenities.
“Hopefully, there are direct and indirect benefits to our local government when it comes to paying back the region,” she said.