(Photo: Courtesy the Trinity Strand Trail, at work on completing the organization's vision for more sustainable living options in Dallas through effective trails)     

By Jada Brazell     

Despite elaborate plans to create a bike- and pedestrian-friendly Dallas, sometimes trail development takes a budgetary backseat to other pressing issues on the City’s agenda. That’s why private advocacy groups, or “friends groups,” exist.

Thanks to Friends of the Katy Trail, Katy Trail is well developed. But there are stretches of land awaiting trail development and, more often than not, volunteer organizations are working behind the scenes to keep the projects alive.

The Trinity Strand Trail organization, founded by a neighborhood community in 2002, is working to expedite development of the 7.8 mile trail that will run through 65 acres of green space in the Design District and connect to the Katy Trail.

The organization has just worked to complete the Turtle Creek Plaza, which features a metal sculpture and other unique elements designed to reflect the architecture of its surroundings in the Design District.

The TST has also aided in the development of two trailheads and continues to maintain these areas.

While the City ultimately approves and provides a portion of the funding for trail projects, it is organizations like TST that often oversee construction, fundraising, neighborhood land donation, design and publicity, according to Shelly White, executive director of the Trinity Strand Trail. She said the TST actively works with the City to maintain momentum and raise funds.

“We are doing the legwork and trying to keep things going,” said White, adding that TST members are passionate about outdoor activity in Dallas.

In its 2011 Bike Plan, the City asserts that community assistance is essential: “This Plan recognizes that the involvement of the ever-growing group of individuals and organizations…is critical to improving the bicycle friendly culture within the City and the region.”

Since its inception, TST has procured bonds from the City and raised funds through endeavors like the annual Jingle Bell Run. TST continues to raise money and awareness and is currently selling commemorative bricks at the Turtle Creek Plaza. The organization also seeks volunteers.

Dallas residents who live in other areas of the city can be a catalyst for trail creation by joining a neighborhood friends group.

Other trail projects with active friends groups include, but are not limited to:

Santa Fe Trail, linking downtown to East Dallas

Cottonwood Trail,  connecting White Rock Lake to Preston Ridge Trail

 Preston Ridge Trail, which extends from McCallum Blvd. to the President George Bush Turnpike

Northaven Trail, running from Central Expressway to White Rock Creek Trail

 White Rock Creek Trail, connecting to to the Cottonwood Creek Trail and White Rock Lake

White Rock Lake Trail, looping around White Rock Lake

Bachman Lake Trail,  routing around Bachman Lake

Kiest Park Loop Trail, a 2.8 mile park trail

Cedar Ridge Preserve Nature Trail, a scenic route in southwest Dallas

L.B. Houston Nature Trail, running along the Elm Fork of the Trinity River in Northwest Dallas

Jada Brazell is a freelance writer who also consults for fashion- and art-based businesses on branding. She has written for the Odessa American and Global Fashion News, edited for the Texas Senate and RadioShack, and contributed to several magazines and newspapers in Central and South Texas.