Oak Cliff Trails: Can a planned $56-million, 50-mile loop make us truly bike-friendly?
The City of Dallas began making comprehensive plans for a citywide trail system about 14 years ago. Since then, the city has built almost 150 miles of trails and another 37 are under development. With more that are planned but currently unfunded, Dallas eventually will have some 300 miles of trails.
While many are disconnected, there is a plan in the works to create The Loop, a $56-million project that would create one 50-mile loop connecting North Dallas, White Rock Lake, South Dallas, Oak Cliff and West Dallas and include all 14 City Council districts. The Loop is the idea of pals Jeff Ellerman, a real estate executive and oilman Larry Dale, who became frustrated one day while riding bikes on the dead-end Trinity Skyline Trail inside the levees. “We were saying, ‘this is so frustrating because there’s no trail to get here. Once you’re down here, it’s unbelievable, but it doesn’t go anywhere. The Great Trinity Forest is amazing, but you can’t get to it. Wouldn’t it be great if these trails connected and they were longer?’”
With encouragement from Mayor Mike Rawlings and Katy Trail mastermind Philip Henderson, they created a nonprofit, the Circuit Trail Conservancy, and about two years ago began working with the city’s Park and Recreation Department and Trinity Watershed Management on a plan to connect the trails.
Now plans for The Loop are complete and the nonprofit already has raised about $17 million, including $5 million from Dallas County.
The city’s portion is $20 million, and if approved, The Loop could be open in the next four years.
Here we offer an update on our neighborhood’s trails and how they fit into The Loop.