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Bicycle-Pedestrian Trail Could Connect Dallas And Fort Worth

A woman cycles past a bicycle rack. (credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Mayors in five cities met recently with staff members from the North Central Texas Council of Governments Transportation Department to discuss their desire to provide a 64-mile continuous network of trails between downtown Fort Worth and downtown Dallas.

"As the nation's fourth largest Metropolitan area, Dallas/Fort Worth is stronger when we work together. It's crucial that all of our communities continue to build bridges — both literally and figuratively. By connecting our cities, this new trail will give our children and their children the opportunity to explore all of North Texas in a healthy and sustainable way," said Mayor Betsy Price, Fort Worth.

Dallas-Fort Worth's comprehensive transportation network makes it easy for residents to get in their cars and travel from one city to the next. But the same isn't always said for people who choose to get around on two wheels or their own two feet.

The mayors of Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Irving and Dallas want to send a message that they are committed to making travel among their cities easier and safer for those wishing to walk or bicycle.

"In the city of Arlington, we are constantly looking for new ways to encourage the community to sustain an active lifestyle. Bicycling contributes to strong cardiovascular health, which is critical to getting your heart rate up and increasing blood circulation throughout the body. Bike trails throughout the Metroplex will also encourage more people to leave their cars at home, improving air quality over time. This is an important point to note, because air quality is one of the leading reasons for so many children being diagnosed with respiratory illnesses at an early age. As a region, we should be encouraged to see different communities working together to accomplish the same goal of providing residents with more opportunities to stay active and healthy," said Mayor Robert Cluck, Arlington.

The $30 million plan would involve using regional and local funding over the next several years to build approximately 24 additional miles of trails to create the continuous network, providing easier access to parks, nature areas, schools and neighborhoods in the five cities. The expansion would build on what is already available for cyclists and pedestrians.

About 30 miles of the trail corridor is complete, and an additional 10 miles has funding for construction. Once the corridor is finished, numerous north-south connections could be developed, providing access to other communities.

"Shortly after I was elected, Mayor Pro Tem Ruthe Jackson, who served on our City Council for 30 years, looked me in the eye and told me I better get the trail system finished because she wasn't going to be around to do it. With her passing in August of 2013 at age 92, you bet Grand Prairie is interested in completing her wishes! As our residents grow 'greener' and look at alternative forms of transportation and exercise, an intercity bike trail holds promise. We are especially partial to projects that unite our communities, so we are interested in seeing how this develops," said Mayor Ron Jensen, Grand Prairie.

The completed trail corridor will provide several connections to Trinity Railway Express commuter rail stations in Fort Worth, Irving and Dallas.

The mayors will work to coordinate efforts between the cities, NCTCOG and the Regional Transportation Council to identify funding and plan for completing critical trail connections. They also pledged to pursue branding and promotional efforts for the corridor, possibly including a naming competition involving the communities.

"A continuous system of trails from Dallas to Fort Worth will make bicycling safer for families and connect our residents to parks, shopping, restaurants and, perhaps most important, one another. I am proud to be working with my colleagues in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie and Irving to create a corridor that will make our communities stronger and lead to a more active and vibrant region," said Mayor Mike Rawlings, Dallas.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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