With the construction of Phase 1 of SH 26 in Colleyville coming to an end, work to bridge the last remaining gap in the Cotton Belt Trail System has started.[polldaddy poll=”9080566″]
Once the gap—between Grapevine and Colleyville—is filled, bicyclists and pedestrians will be able to travel from North Richland Hills to Grapevine uninterrupted. Colleyville officials said the gap is expected to be closed by spring.
Grapevine Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Mitchell said the trail is an important asset because many people use it not only for recreational use, but also for walking and biking to work.
“This is the major link between North Richland Hills and Grapevine,” he said. “Once the gap is closed this [will be]a huge linkage that links all the communities along that corridor.”
As part of the SH 26 project, the Texas Department of Transportation finished the Cotton Belt Trail in Grapevine and will construct the trail up to Colleyville’s entry sign in September.
Mitchell said the gap was left intentionally during the past few years because of SH 26 reconstruction.
“It had to do with the expansion of the road and knowing that it was coming,” he said. “You truly can’t do something like this knowing that in the future that the road is going to change. So we had to wait on the road to widen to make
Plans to build a pocket park
All that remains to connect the Cotton Belt Trail is a portion of about 800 feet, which is from Colleyville’s entry sign to the existing trail on John McCain Road. Colleyville Public Works Director Jeremy Hutt said along with finishing the trail the city has plans to build a pocket park as well. City officials are calling it a pocket park as it will sit in the northwest corner, or pocket, of the John McCain Road and SH 26 intersection.
“The city has acquired that corner parcel, so it will not be built with the SH 26 project,” Hutt said. “[TxDOT] just finished [the gap]in Grapevine, and they will be moving over in [September] and [finishing the gap from Pool /Brumlow Road to the entry sign]in Colleyville, but they are going to stop where the retaining wall stops and then [the trail]is going to enter at that section of property [we purchased].”
Hutt said Colleyville acquired 0.87 acres to build the pocket park and the last piece of the trail.
“If we weren’t able to acquire the property the trail would have been extended along the TxDOT right of way and kind of on the edge of the roadway,” he said. “So by doing this we are able to incorporate the canopies of the trees to provide some shade and get [the trail]off the roadway and have some amenities included.”
Colleyville Parks Manager James Hubbard said the parks department has already begun cleaning up the lot and preparing for construction.
“It will be branded similar to other parks in terms of what benches we select and things like that, but it’s more going to serve as a rest stop along the Cotton Belt Trail for its users,” he said. “There will not be a parking lot or restrooms or any building structures.”
Design plans for the park include the planting of at least eight trees, three benches and a drinking fountain.
Part of the veloweb
The completion of the Cotton Belt Trail System is, however, just a small milestone in a much bigger plan for the region. The trail is part of the North Central Texas Council of Government’s 2035 Mobility Plan.
NCTCOG Senior Transportation Planner Kevin Kokes said the veloweb is a planned web of planned and existing off-street trails in the Dallas-Fort Worth area stretching a total of about 1,728 miles that will provide a network of connectivity for 117 cities, including Dallas, Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake and Fort Worth.
“The regional veloweb is the long-term metropolitan transportation plan for the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” Kokes said. “It shows prioritized corridors for trails in the region and the trails identified are long-distance trails that connect multiple cities or connect to large transit facilities or key places.”
Kokes said the veloweb was designed to encourage nonmotorized travel and provide regional connectivity.
“The idea is we want these regional trails to connect to schools or other destinations and serve as a mode of transportation,” he said. “We want [residents]to hop on the trail and take it to the school or their workplace.”
Colleyville will also implement several improvements to parks near the trail.
“[The Cotton Belt Trail] is definitely our spine,” Hubbard said. “Cotton Belt will connect several of our parks and make them more accessible. Overall just enhancing our parks has always been something that our community has been passionate about.”
Pleasant Run Park, which has a sidewalk that connects to the trail, was approved by City Council in August for a new $130,000 playground, which will be completed in January.
“The addition of that playground was in compliance, or guided by, our 2011 Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which identified the need for some additional playgrounds,” Hubbard said. “That park was selected due to its proximity to the Cotton Belt Trail as it actually connects to the Cotton Belt Trail. It is also the site of our soccer complex. So [there is]lots of activity going on there.”
L.D. Lockett Park, which can also be accessed by the trail, will get several enhancements, such as a pavilion, a new monument sign, benches, a bike repair station, picnic tables and a drinking fountain. Hubbard said the more than $500,000 in enhancements will be completed in the spring.
“Our parks are very unique,” Hubbard said. “We have a lot of different amenities throughout the park system. Our goal is not so much to be acquiring more and more parkland but really [to]just maintain and improve upon our existing parkland every day and every year.”