Ruhma KhanMercury Staff
The Richardson City Council has applied for federal funding to cover the segment of the proposed Cotton Belt Trail that services UTD, which is the fourth and last portion of the trail in Richardson that has yet to be funded.
The Cotton Belt Trail is a 26-mile long hiking and biking trail that will be built alongside the new DART Cotton Belt Rail Line. Three-and-a-half miles of the trail will be within the city of Richardson. Construction is expected to be completed by 2022.
Jessica Shutt, the mobility and special projects manager for the city of Richardson, said the city council has applied for federal grant funding through the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program. The program helps fund city infrastructure projects related to walking and cycling.
The program is affiliated with the North Texas Council of Governments, an organization “that assists local governments with regional development projects,” according to its website.
The remaining unfunded portion of the Cotton Belt Trail is a half-mile segment that will connect Waterview Parkway to UTD and runs behind the Northside and Synergy Park North complexes. It is estimated to cost $600,000.
If awarded the funding, the city of Richardson will have to pay for up to 33 percent of the costs, or $200,000.
“It’s a regional trail that connects, eventually when it’s all constructed, all the way down to downtown Fort Worth. For people who live along the trail they will be able to ride to the closest rail station, so it definitely improves mobility options,” Shutt said. “The section of our trail goes over into the new CityLine development, so it connects different destinations.”
The trail will have four sections in Richardson. Two of these sections have already been fully funded through various regional grants from the NTCOG.
“We’re pretty excited for the trail and our goal is to get it built with the rail and hopefully have a new 3.5 mile segment by the time the rail opens,” Shutt said. “We’re doing what we can to try and make that happen.”
The third segment of the trail will be fully funded by Dallas Area Rapid Transit because it is an existing trail that will need to be rebuilt along with the rail line. The fourth segment of the trail in Richardson — the part that connects the proposed DART station near Northside to Waterview Parkway — has not yet been funded.
Richardson City Council member Marta Gomez Frey said she hopes the new trail will allow residents to enjoy the outdoor space in Richardson.
The trail will allow residents of Richardson to go from their neighborhoods to the Richardson city dog park, Frey said. The trail will also be 12 feet wide, leaving enough room for cyclists and pets.
“The other thing the trail is going to do is it’s going to connect the restaurants and the hotels and the entertainment at city line to the west part of Richardson” Frey said. “The Cotton Belt Rail Line and the trail system are just going to be amazing additions to our community.”