Cyclists and city planners dream of a 64-mile bike superhighway connecting Dallas and Fort Worth. With the opening of the new Lone Star-Campión Connection Trail between Irving and Grand Prairie, they’re inching closer to those dreams.
The weather wasn't ideal for a bike ride: gray skies, endless drizzle and muddy pant legs. Still, dozens of city and county officials huddled under a single white tent at the Mountain Creek Preserve, northwest of Loop 12 and Interstate 30 in Irving, to celebrate the trail's opening.
Trails are the way to 'bring people together'
Ten miles in all, it marks the first completed link between two cities along the 64-mile superhighway, which is also known as the Trinity Trail System. Right now, it mostly exists as separate trails across the five cities -- Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Irving and Dallas.
Elba Garcia, a Dallas County Commissioner, said building the trail connection was a team effort.
“When you’re talking about connectivity, when you're talking about economic development, when you’re talking about how to bring people together, trails are the way to do it,” Garcia said.
This is still Car Country
Increasing the use of bike paths could still be a challenge in this neck of the woods.
Just take a look at a list of bike commuting in the 70 biggest cities compiled by the League of American Bicyclists. North Texas towns were near the bottom, although Dallas did move up -- from No. 65 to No. 58.
Gerald Farris, an Irving City Council member, says the project is needed for an automobile-centric North Texas.
“We’re just kind of stuck on our roads; we’re stuck in our cars,” Farris said, promising that he’ll use the trail as much as possible. “I think over the next five years, you’re going to see the people understand what an asset something like this really is to the quality of life.”
Grand Prairie Mayor Ron Jensen agreed that the area could use a culture change.
“We need more opportunities, especially for our kids growing up to be able to do things like I was able to do when I was a kid. Just get on a bicycle and ride,” Jensen said. “So it’s to try and get back to nature, outside, exercise, slower pace, all of those.”
A work in progress
The Lone Star-Campión connections means 52 of the 64 miles along the bike superhighway are completed or are underway. The price tag for the other 12 miles? $20 million.
The trail will run mostly along the Trinity River -- from existing bike paths in downtown Fort Worth through Arlington, then in a loop through Irving and Grand Prairie and finishing off on the new Trinity Skyline Trail in downtown Dallas.
Videos: Explore the trail
Last October, KERA reported on plans for the superhighway. Read our earlier story here.