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Trinity Trails System proposed as major Texas greenway

This discussion of a 250-mile "spine" of the regional system in the Dallas area was produced in 2001. For current information about trail planning in the region, see the North Central Texas Council of Governments Bicycle and Pedestrian page.

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From the Trinity Trails Advisory Committee

Map of Texas

The mission of the Trinity Trails Advisory Committee is "to cause to be built a continuous public-access recreation corridor with a multi-use trail along the Trinity River Corridor in North Central Texas and northward to the Red River." A decade ago even the idea of a regional committee of elected officials seriously considering the concept of a multi-county river trails system would have seemed absurd to many citizens. My how times have changed!

After almost two years of detailed effort, the Trinity Trails Advisory Committee in early 1996 adopted a proposed alignment. For most of the 250-mile "spine" of the regional system. It begins at the confluence of the three major forks— West Fork, Elm Fork and the Main Stem— near downtown Dallas. The 125-mile northward spine, referred to as Dalhoma, is planned to extend along the Elm Fork to Lakes Lewisville and Ray Roberts, then along major highway and rail corridors to Lake Texoma at the Oklahoma border. The 50-mile southeastern spine initially extends to the Dallas/Ellis County line, but could eventually reach the Gulf of Mexico along the Trinity. And the 75-mile western spine extends to Lakes Benbrook and Eagle Mountain, then?

Trinity Trails logo
 

The Trinity Trails Advisory Committee consists of representatives appointed by each participating local government along the Trinity in North Central Texas, and by the Texoma COG for the northern arm of Dalhoma. Most representatives are elected officials or park board members. It is chaired by the prior Mayor of Dallas, who is also a former Congressman. Lead staff support is provided by the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers responsible for the technical study efforts.

The corridor will be a continuous strip of land that can accommodate hike, bike, equestrian and/or nature trails, and serve as the primary link for recreational opportunities within a "world-class" Trinity River Greenway. Trails within the corridor spine, and connecting spurs, would provide alternate transportation routes to parks, schools, shopping areas, and work. As part of its Mobility 2010 regional transportation plan, NCTCOG has established a goal of 8% mode-share for walking or biking, up from 2% actual in 1990.

Much has already been accomplished. Major trail segments in Fort Worth and Arlington along the West Fork are already in place, and several others have received state transportation enhancements project funding. A greenway linking Lakes Lewisville and Ray Roberts has been preserved by the Corps with local city partners, and a groundbreaking ceremony for the trails segment was dedicated on June 1, 1996— National Trails Day— with the unveiling of the official logo for the Trinity Trails System. Trail segments along the spine are designated into one of four categories.

About 2/3 of the Trinity Trails System "spine" has been completed, programmed or sponsored as follows:

  • 16% of the Trinity Trails System "spine" has been completed and designated (on the ground, in use and officially designated by the advisory committee)
  • 20% is programmed (under construction or funded with a construction schedule)
  • 30% is sponsored (formal council resolution accepting sponsorship, meeting criteria established by the advisory committee)
  • 28% is endorsed (recommended by the advisory committee with assent of local jurisdiction)

"The corridor will be a continuous strip of land that can accommodate hike, bike, equestrian and/or nature trails, and serve as the primary link for recreational opportunities within a "world-class" Trinity River Greenway."

A set of criteria for acceptance of local sponsorship has been developed and is used by the Trinity Trails Advisory Committee:

  • trail segment within the alignment of the corridor
  • appropriate agency to accept sponsorship
  • formal action taken by governing body
  • connections at both ends and willingness to work with other jurisdictions for river crossings or linkages
  • provides public access
  • prohibits motorized use (except to meet Americans with Disabilities Act)
  • intention to meet multi-use needs as a continuous recreation trail within its segment during the programming stage

Work regarding the remaining 15 miles (or 6%) of the spine during 1996 is concentrating on identifying two remaining linkages along the West Fork. Attention is also being placed on bridge requirements across Lake Lewisville and elsewhere, and rails-with trails opportunities. Another priority is establishing criteria for the "spurs" that will connect the system regionwide. For example, Dallas County is preparing a countywide trails master plan that will tie into the Trinity Trails System, and Arlington is conducting a comprehensive Johnson Creek study to link The Ballpark in Arlington, University of Texas at Arlington and other major destinations to the Trinity and the new Living Science Center in River Legacy Parks.

The Trinity Trails System is the first study implementation project of the Upper Trinity River Feasibility Study, a regional planning effort authorized by Congress and initiated in 1990 to address flood damage reduction, water quality, environmental enhancement, recreation, and other allied purposes. The study is being conducted by the Fort Worth District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with NCTCOG serving as administrative agent for the 14 participating cities, counties and special districts in pursuit of a COMMON VISION. The six-year $8 million first phase is nearing completion. Phase II extends the 50/50 federal and local cost-share study to the Year 2000 with an additional $6.85 million for local and regional implementation planning.

For current information about trail planning in the region, see the North Central Texas Council of Governments Bicycle and Pedestrian pages: www.nctcog.org/trans/sustdev/bikeped/bikeweb/

April 4, 2001

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