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Government RTC Approves $36.74 million for bike-pedestrian connections

RTC Approves $36.74 million for bike-pedestrian connections

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The Regional Transportation Council approved $36.74 million Oct. 11 toward significant expansions to the growing network of bicycle-pedestrian trails in Dallas-Fort Worth to improve access to transit, jobs, school and other major destinations.

This federal funding will pay for expansion of the Fort Worth-to-Dallas Regional Veloweb Trail and for crucial parts of the Cotton Belt Regional Trail, the RTC said in a news release.

With the addition of local matching funds, this recent investment in the trails will top $40 million. Both trail projects have been in the region’s Metropolitan Transportation Plan since 1996.

Fort Worth-to-Dallas Regional Trail

There will be $9.08 million in federal funding for construction of 3.1 miles of the Fort Worth-to-Dallas Regional Veloweb Trail that will complete a continuous 53-mile trail southern alignment connecting Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Irving and Dallas.

The approved section of the Fort Worth-to-Dallas trail will connect the existing Mike Lewis Trail in Grand Prairie to the Trinity Railway Express Centreport/DFW Airport Station in Fort Worth and the River Legacy Trail in Arlington near State Highway 360. This will make it easier for area cyclists and employees to access the rail station. For example, employees at the new American Airlines headquarters will be able to access to the rail station by using the new trail.

The cities of Fort Worth and Grand Prairie will manage the design and construction of the 3.1-mile trail section. All sections of the regional trail southern alignment are anticipated to be complete by 2023, resulting in a continuous trail alignment stretching from downtown Fort Worth to downtown Dallas.

In addition to connecting with several rail stations, trail users will be able to access several hundred miles of connecting trails in the five cities.

The Fort Worth-to-Dallas Regional Veloweb Trail was given a significant boost in 2013, when the mayors of the five cities met to commit to find funding to complete a continuous trail alignment.

A map and more information about the Fort Worth-to-Dallas Regional Veloweb Trail are provided at www.nctcog.org/FWtoDALTrail.

Cotton Belt Regional Trail

Additionally, the RTC committed $8.20 million toward the engineering design of a 26-mile Cotton Belt Trail and $19.46 million toward the construction of 8.5 miles of the trail, including trail bridges over major roadways, as part of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Cotton Belt commuter rail line project.

The Cotton Belt commuter rail and the parallel regional trail project will extend through seven cities (Grapevine, Coppell, Carrollton, Addison, Dallas, Richardson and Plano) within three counties (Tarrant, Dallas, and Collin counties), from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport to Plano. This regional trail ultimately will connect with the existing Cotton Belt Trail in Grapevine that currently extends westward through several cities in Tarrant County. In addition to the funding approved by the RTC, Dallas County Commissioners Court acted Sept. 4, to approve $4.94 million toward construction of another 3.3 miles of the Cotton Belt regional trail.

DART will complete the trail’s engineering design and construct the funded portions of the trail concurrently with the Cotton Belt commuter rail project, which is anticipated to be complete and open in late 2022. Once completed, the regional trail will better enable residents to walk or ride their bikes to transit stations along the commuter rail line.

A map and more information about the Cotton Belt Trail are provided at www.nctcog.org/CottonBeltTrail.

Mayors in the cities along the routes praised the decision in statements in the news release.

“The regional trail provides connections to numerous major destinations and employment centers in Fort Worth, including downtown, Panther Island, the emerging Trinity Lakes mixed-use development and more,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said.

“As an avid cyclist, I also understand the health benefits associated with being active. I appreciate the RTC for providing residents across the region improved access to trails and for recognizing bicycling and walking’s value as a way to connect to jobs, education, transit, mobility and other amenities that make our region great,” Price said.

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said one of his city’s “truly remarkable assets” is River Legacy Park, a 1,300-acre urban oasis with bike trails that are part of the network linking Fort Worth to Dallas.

“Trail users in River Legacy can view the ecological diversity of North Texas, with access from many nearby rapidly growing residential areas such as Viridian,” Williams said.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings recalled the meeting by mayors five years ago and the commitment to fund and build a continuous bike trail from Dallas to Fort Worth.

“Thanks to the hard work of my colleagues and the diligence of the RTC, we’ve identified the money needed to complete the network. Today’s action by the RTC is historic because there is more than a recreational element to a continuous trail through the core of the region. The regional trail will provide a true transportation link to Dallas and surrounding communities.”

– FWBP Staff

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