Dallas County came up with its master plan for the trails first, and its plan is much more focused on “thoroughfare-type trails,” Rick Loessberg says, the kind that span a few miles and take people from one place to the next and have regional and county-wide implications, as opposed to the smaller loop trails in parks and neighborhoods. The City of Dallas took this plan and “basically ground-truthed it to see if it could actually be done,” Michael Hellmann says.
“We have actually walked every corridor and documented every corridor to make sure it’s possible,” Hellmann says of the city’s master plan. “It goes beyond a conceptual level to an actual route on that plan.”
The city and county have paired up with each other and with other government entities — the Texas Department of Transportation, the North Texas Council of Governments and Collin County — to fund various portions of the master plans. They also contract with DART and even electricity distributor Oncor to construct and maintain some sections of the trail. That’s because new trail construction will most often happen in one of four places: existing greenbelt, city-owned floodway management areas, old railroad corridors (many of which DART owns), and rights-of-way.
Hellmann says about 30 percent of the proposed trail system will be built in rights-of-way, and much of it in Oncor utility corridors. Dallas’ partnership with Oncor allows the city to convert these rights-of-way to trails, and in return, the city maintains these corridors.
“A lot of people look at these corridors and think of them as necessary evils to get electricity delivered,” Hellmann says. “[The trails] really do provide a use for strips of land that are seemingly unused and unsightly.”