With construction of the Cotton Belt rail line set to begin this year, staff members in the city of Richardson’s transportation and mobility office say they are looking forward to the simultaneous construction of an adjacent hike-and-bike trail.
Three-and-a-half miles of the 26-mile trail will run through Richardson, said Jessica Shutt, the city’s mobility and special projects manager. Dallas Area Rapid Transit has split the trail into 26 segments based on funding status. The Richardson portion of the trail has four segments, one of which is not yet funded.
The Richardson trail segments and their funding details are:
- Segment 21 is just under 0.5 miles and will run between Waterview Parkway and the future Cotton Belt station at the University of Texas at Dallas. It is currently unfunded and expected to cost about $600,000.
- Segment 22 is the longest segment at two miles and will run from the UTD Station to Alma Road. Construction of this piece has been defined by DART as critical, meaning its funding was fast-tracked to ensure it completion by the time the Cotton Belt is operational in 2022. It was fully funded by the North Central Texas Council of Government’s Regional Transportation Council at a cost of $7.3 million.
- Segment 23 is the shortest section, beginning at Alma Road and ending at the intersection with the Spring Creek Nature Trail. The piece of the trail disturbed by construction of the Cotton Belt will be reconstructed by DART at a fully funded cost of $200,000.
- Segment 24 is just under a mile long and begins at the rail line’s intersection with the Spring Creek Nature Trail before continuing to city limits and connecting with an existing trail in Plano. The $2.6 million section is funded through a partnership with the NCTCOG. The majority of the city’s portion was covered by transportation development credits awarded by the NCTCOG for various regional mobility projects it has constructed over the years, Shutt said.
A NCTCOG program that matches funds used to construct pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly infrastructure is how staff thinks Richardson should fund Segment 21, Shutt said. A match of at least 20 percent is required by the NCTCOG, but Shutt’s staff has asked City Council to approve a resolution that commits a 33 percent match, or no more than $200,000. If approved, DART would manage and construct the segment of trail, Shutt said.
“We think this [match]will help us score much more competitively,” she said. “… Cotton Belt trail would be completely constructed from start to finish if we get this funding, which is huge for the community of Richardson and the region.”
Applications for the matching grant are due March 1, Shutt said. City Council is expected to vote on the resolution at its Feb. 25 meeting.