We live in a virtual park desert. While southern Dallas is studded with green space every few blocks, as shown on the map, our neighborhood has only a small splattering of pocket parks — not much to write home about. This could be because many of the city’s parks were funded during a large push for public gathering places in the early 1900s, years before Preston Hollow was incorporated into Dallas in 1945.
It wasn’t until the Northaven Trail opened in 2012 that our neighborhood became walkable. Considered a critical part of the city’s east-west trail connection, the $10 million needed to build the first stretch of the trail from Preston Road to Valleydale Drive was covered by bond funds. The city’s 2008 plan to connect dozens of city trails and parks hinged on Northaven and was bolstered by the ease of acquiring trail access via an easement already secured by Oncor.
My Park Day Get your hands dirty during this Oct. 1 work day to enhance and enjoy the trail. The day also includes bubble soccer, yoga, rescue dogs and the Hamburger Man. Get the details at northaventrail.org.
But that was just the beginning. Plans to expand Northaven were in the works before the first section was even built, heading west to the Walnut Hill/Denton DART station and east to link into the White Rock Creek and Cottonwood trails. Both of those expansions are now underway, thanks largely to financial contributions from Dallas County, which has been using roadway dollars on trail projects ever since the majority of its territory became incorporated into cities.
“[The county] said if the city comes up with the money, we’ll match it,” says Preston Hollow councilman and longtime trail supporter Lee Kleinman.
While the eastern expansion will add just one mile to the trail, at $14 million, it will be the costliest section to build. That’s because it involves a bridge over a major highway, one that is being designed by the Texas Department of Transportation, with funding split between the city and county.
“There’s probably an outside shot we could see [the eastern expansion] completed by the end of 2018,” Kleinman says optimistically.
Currently determined cyclists can take the muddy makeshift path under I-75, but soon there will be safe passage over the freeway. The trail will not only offer a straight shot to White Rock Lake but also will stitch into a patchwork of other trails offering access to nearly any part of the city.
To the West, the $8 million expansion will add 6.25 miles of trail from Preston Road to the Walnut Hill/Denton DART station. Currently, the city plans to break ground next year with the trail completed some time in 2018.
Eventually, dependent on funding, the western edge of the trail could
link into the Elm Fork Trail at the Moneygram Soccer Park, which connects to the Campion Trail in Irving that loops through a variety of scenic parks. Another proposed, but unfunded, addition would expand the Elm Fork Trail to connect into the Trinity River Greenbelt, with its myriad trails and natural beauty.
As far as city projects go, Northaven Trail is an example of one of the most seamlessly built and funded, largely because it had widespread neighborhood and city council support. The demand for walkability is evident in local development discussions, as more people prefer to have the option to walk or bike.
“We’re trying to make the streets more accessible to all users,” Kleinman says. “If we can get people walking or biking more, it helps our transportation system.”
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