A few weeks ago, Councilwoman Angela Hunt contacted us at Team Better Block to find out ways we could develop some “quick win” opportunities that would allow pedestrians and cyclists closer access to the Trinity river, all while linking the southern terminus of the Katy Trail (at the American Airlines Center) to the Bishop Arts District. Up to this point, our team had experience with repairing city blocks, dying shopping strips, building dog parks, plazas, and bike infrastructure…but this project presented an entirely different opportunity of linking two destinations that were miles apart via an onstreet bike network, all while cutting a 9 mile long soft-surface trail system. After laying out all of the parameters, and looking at the resources we had available, we realized we had two fronts to focus on: the onstreet connections, and the trail. From here, we’ve given ourselves a 90 day timeline to plan, gather materials, coordinate volunteers, build the network, and open the street, and trail to the public. If all goes well, we’ll have a completed segment by October 23rd.
This project has by far been one of the most extensive one’s we’ve undertaken, and it would not be possible without the help of a ton of amazing people. Specifically, the Trinity Trust, councilmembers Angela Hunt, Scott Griggs, and Sandy Greyson, DORBA, Groundwork Dallas, the Trinity Strand, SGI, The Trinity Watershed Management Group, Max Kalhammer, Beth Ramierz, Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan, Rebecca Dugger and a host of other individuals.
The Trail Team
We started the project by calling one of our favorite surveyors in town, Michael Salcedo, of Salcedo Group Inc. Michael, and his family have been integral to a ton of civil engineering and trail efforts in the city, and his father, Luis Salcedo, has been a personal mentor and deserves a large credit for helping bring the streetcar back to Oak Cliff. Michael had done much of the GIS work for other trails in the city, and he immediately set to work mapping out an alignment that would stay close to the river, but avoid the wetlands. Michael was also on the board for Groundwork Dallas, and helped connect us to a host of others that would end up getting involved with the project.
From here, we circled back with our friends at DORBA, the Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association. These guys and gals are incredible…not only are they one of the largest off road cycling clubs in the US with over 1, 500 memberships, but they currently act as stewards over 200 miles worth of trails in the region. Dylan Holt, DORBA board member, and regular volunteer for our Bike Friendly Oak Cliff projects, quickly coordinated efforts with them and helped rally their team to help. DORBA is heading up the trail cutting initiative, and has been hard at work in the levee since the project began.
Next up, the Trinity Trust and Groundwork Dallas…the former has been spearheading Trinity efforts since the very beginning, and have had to weather a ton of obstacles to keep the hundreds of pieces for the project moving forward. The scale of the entire Trinity Corridor project is epic, and something that’s hard to get your head around when you actually drive across the floodplain. Our recent efforts at the Living Plaza introduced us to Gail Thomas who heads the Trust, and has been one of the most ardent activists for revitalizing downtown and the river. As soon as we realized that we might need additional resources to complete the project, the Trust stepped up and said, “we’ll help!”
Since we’re creating 9 miles of trail, we quickly realized we’d need to create a series of overlooks and areas where trail users could stop, linger, and take in the river and its habitat. Peter Payton has been heading up Groundwork Dallas for 3 years now, and has led many of the major clean-up efforts all along the Trinity and is currently working on trail systems throughout the Trinity Forest. For anyone interested in helping us develop our trail hubs, Peter’s the go t0 guy, so please touch base through their website. At this time, we’ve identified 6 overlooks that we’re needing individuals, companies, or organizations to adopt.
So where are we now? Trail cutting officially started two weeks ago with the first pass using basic brush cutters, and the second using riding mowers. Next week, DORBA will begin pin flagging the route so that its easily visible from those entering Crow Park. There are a handful of obstacles that could push back our timeline…namely, completion of the Santa Fe Trestle (scheduled to open early October), and buildout of an additional levee access ramp, but we’re moving forward in hopes that these efforts complete successfully.The Onstreet Team Max Kalhammer, and Andrew Howard