McKinney City Council members approved allocating funding for the design of the Lower 5 Plaza project at a Dec. 5 meeting.

The project is a pedestrian connectivity initiative that would add an at-grade bridge with a walkable underpass connecting park areas on either side of SH 5 between Louisiana Street and Virginia Street, according to city documents.

City staff presented an update on the Lower 5 Plaza initiative, previously referred to as the deck park project, to City Council members at the meeting, including details on how the Texas Department of Transportation and the North Central Texas Council of Governments are expected to contribute to the project.

How we got here

City staff presented three design options for the project in April 2022.

The options presented included:
  • A traditional deck park with the road routed underneath a bridge
  • An at-grade option where both the park and road remain at ground level
  • An inverted deck park style, in which the road remained at grade, and the pedestrian connection is routed underneath the road
Council members identified the inverted deck park as the preferred design style in April. The project is expected to cost between $40 million-$45 million, including costs for both infrastructure and the planned park, according to city documents. The park is also expected to cost the city between $2 million-$2.5 million in annual operation and maintenance costs once completed.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments has committed $30 million for the infrastructure work, Assistant City Manager Kim Flom said. The funding is expected to be available in late 2024.

The gist

Council members approved three items related to the project, including a budget amendment and two contracts with design and planning firm Kimley-Horn.

The design contracts include:
  • $225,000 for the design of a conceptual park layout
  • $435,000 for the preliminary drainage design as well as preliminary layouts for the bridge and park grading
The items were all approved in three separate votes with a 5-2 vote split. Council members Patrick Cloutier and Justin Beller voted against the items in each of the three votes.

Cloutier noted his concerns for the potential for the park to attract homeless individuals that would seek shelter in the underpass. Other concerns raised included issues with echoing noise from the traffic overhead and cost escalation over the course of the seven-year project.

Council member Charlie Philips voted in support of the items related to the project but shared his thoughts on the project during a presentation in a Dec. 5 work session. Philips said he voted against the design style the council is pursuing in favor of the traditional deck park style earlier this year but would vote to support the design contracts to align with fellow council members.

“I will support your motions this evening to fund the design and construction of this park because it is the will of the entire council, but I still maintain it is not the appropriate design we should have undertaken,” Philips said.

Diving deeper

The project is being incorporated into the planned reconstruction of SH 5 by TxDOT, with the state organization taking on the construction of the bridge portion of the Lower 5 Plaza project.

As a result, the SH 5 roadway improvement project is being split into two phases:
  • Phase 1: Country Club Road to McMakin Street, which is expected to begin construction in spring 2025
  • Phase 2: McMakin Street to Power House Street, which is expected to begin construction in mid-2026
The roadway improvement project is also expected to include additional pedestrian crossing points following an analysis of pedestrian activity in the area, McKinney Director of Engineering Gary Graham said. TxDOT will also manage environmental documentation as well as acquiring right of way for the project, including business relocations and demolition for five affected properties adjacent to the roadway, according to the presentation.

The city is responsible for the design and construction of the drainage system, infrastructure and plaza amenities as well as for creating the initial bridge design, according to the presentation.

Going forward

Work on the design of the project is underway, with the bridge schematic design expected to be completed in early 2024, according to city documents.

The design of the park is expected to change from the renderings that have been presented so far. Additional public input opportunities will be held prior to the final park design, Graham said.

The total project isn’t expected to be completed until 2030 and will follow the completion of the SH 5 reconstruction, according to the presentation.
The final iteration of the park isn't expected to be completed until 2030, according to city documents. (Courtesy city of McKinney)
The final iteration of the park isn't expected to be completed until 2030, according to city documents. (Courtesy city of McKinney)
Learn more

For more information on the Lower 5 Plaza project, visit