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THE LOOP This map shows the proposed 50-mile continuous loop around Dallas by building four key connectors.

Dallas has just gotten closer to having a connected trail system that links miles of existing trails throughout the city. Circuit Trail Conservancy (CTC) announced that it has raised $23 million in private and non-city funds for THE LOOP, which once completed will provide a contiguous 50-mile premier urban trail network encircling the core of Dallas. THE LOOP will serve as an alternative transportation system connecting existing and planned hike and bike trails, transportation nodes (bus stops/DART lines, etc.), economic centers and neighborhoods.

 

Jeff Ellerman, CTC chairman, said, “Dallas has a plan for the Dallas Integrated Trail Circuit, which comprises nearly 130 miles of wonderful trails. The problem is this plan may take many years to complete, and our trails don’t connect. What's missing are some key connectors to link these fragmented trail systems. When we studied it, by adding four key connectors, we’ll be able to form an active transportation system comprising a continuous 50-mile loop around the center of Dallas stretching from Richardson to White Rock Lake to South Dallas to West Dallas.”

 

CTC was tasked by the city of Dallas to raise at least $20 million that it would then match, and it is now asking officials to maintain this commitment and earmark $20 million in the 2017 bond campaign for THE LOOP. CTC will continue efforts to raise at least another $13 million for amenities, maintenance, landscaping, infrastructure and endowment. The total cost of the project is $56 million.

 

Circuit Trail Conservancy was established at the behest of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Willis Winters, and the Dallas Park and Recreation Board. They asked for help connecting the many popular trails throughout Dallas into an integrated trail system.  CTC was formed as a public/private partnership to design, construct and operate this trail system, as well as to raise the necessary fund to make these plans a reality. 

 

Over a decade ago, the city of Dallas set out to design and build a master trail system to link neighborhoods to transportation hubs and economic centers—thus making Dallas more livable and pedestrian friendly. The Hike and Bike Trail Network Master Plan has been adopted, and the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) adopted the Dallas Integrated Trail Circuit plan (Dallas ITC). PARD has approved the public/private partnership strategy to complete Dallas ITC, and Circuit Trail Conservancy was formed.

 

Many miles of trails have been constructed, but key strategic connectors still need to be built in order to:

  • link existing trails and connect neighborhoods;
  • leverage Dallas’ current trail system by creating a contiguous 50-mile recreation amenity;
  • create alternative and safe transportation routes;
  • stimulate economic development and attract new residents;
  • connect people to nature and to be known as a 21st century city.

 

Mayor Mike Rawlings said, “Dallas is home to beautiful natural open spaces and destination spots, which draw residents and visitors to our active and vibrant city. We must connect these city jewels with our neighborhoods and most importantly, our neighborhoods to one another, through a truly contiguous trail system.”

 

Linda Owen, CTC board member, said, “This is truly a legacy project for our great city. As demonstrated in other cities, the potential for generating economic development and future tax revenue around the trails is substantial.”

 

The four proposed connectors total a little more than 10 miles:

 

1 – The Trinity Forest Spine Trail is about 8.7 miles long and connects White Rock Lake and East Dallas to South Dallas down to the Great Trinity Forest and to destinations there including the Trinity River Audubon Center, Texas Horse Park and the Trinity Forest Golf Course. Part of this path includes the existing Santa Fe Trail and the Joppa Connector Trail and the Trinity Forest Trail System.

 

2 – The Circuit Trail Connection Trail and Bridge is approximately one-mile connecting the shared use path and bridge structure between the Katy Trail to the Trinity Strand Trail.

 

3 – The Baker Pump Station Gateway is about a one-mile shared use path connecting the Trinity Strand Trail to the Trinity Skyline Trail.

 

4 – The Trinity Skyline Trail Link is about a one-mile shared use path connecting the existing Trinity River Skyline Trail to the Trinity River Audubon Center and Trinity Forest Trails.

 

Ellerman added, “All the pledges are contingent on the 2017 bond passing, and we’re asking the city of Dallas to keep its promise by earmarking $20 million in the bond package, so that we can build these four connectors.”

 

Mike Terry, CTC board member, said, “We like this project because of its size—it’s reachable, doable and accessible for anyone who wants to use the trails. Once we have funds in hand, we’ll be able to see results in the next few years. THE LOOP is really the next big, immediate project for Dallas.”

 

CTC Board Member Larry Dale added, “THE LOOP will spur all kinds of economic development, especially in Southern Dallas as two-thirds of the project is located there. Just look at the Katy Trail and the businesses, restaurants and residences that have grown up along its busy path.  The Urban Land Institute estimates that the economic impact of the Katy Trail is $1 BILLION, and that’s just one trail.”

 

Dale added, “There are no easement and right-of-way issues involved, thus keeping the costs down. Since we already have a lot of the trails built, let’s connect what we already have.”

 

CTC board members all contributed to the quiet phase campaign. Additional supporters to date include the following:

Leading Supporters: Lydia and Bill Addy, Crow Family Holdings, Lawrence B. Dale Family Foundation, Hunt Realty Investments, Mary and Mike Terry.

Founders: Anonymous (2), Gil Besing, Billingsley Family, Jane and Pat Bolin, Cecilia and Garrett Boone, Greg Colvin, Corrigan Family Holdings, Pam and Jeff Ellerman, Headington Companies, Jerry and Philip Henderson, Highland Capital Management, Rhonda and Jim Hoyt, Jordan Family Foundation, Diana and Todd Maclin, Bill and Patricia Miller, Muse Family Foundation, Linda Owen, Dee Ann and Marshall Payne, Jodi and Rick Perdue, Joseph Pitchford, Richardson Bike Mart, Carla and Woody Smith, Sulentic Family Foundation.

Friends: Rich Enthoven, Carolyn and Karl Rathjen, The Real Estate Council Foundation, Deedie Rose, Gerald and Claudia Stool, SWA Group, Annette and Jack Vaughn, Robert C. and Fallon B. Vaughn, Terri Sue and Jack Wensinger.

 

The Circuit Trail Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) that serves as an umbrella organization to lead fundraising and outreach efforts for The Dallas Integrated Trail Circuit. Founding board members include Larry Dale, Jeff Ellerman (chairman), Philip Henderson (president), Linda Owen, Rick Perdue, Joseph Pitchford and Mike Terry. For more information, visit https://theloopdallas.org/.

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