Katy Trail Extension, Bond Passage Help Push Loop Forward

Mockingbird pedestrian bridge connects to open spaces in Dallas. (Photo: Bianca R. Montes)

The Loop, a 50-mile circuit connecting Dallas’ major bike-and-pedestrian trails across the city, is one step closer to completion thanks to the passage of a nearly $262 million park and trail bond and the long-awaited opening of the Mockingbird Pedestrian Bridge.

Dallas leaders went for a ride across the multimillion-dollar bridge that runs from Mockingbird Station to the backside of the Highland Dallas hotel, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in November.

“When we talk about creating a city for the next generation, we have to talk about connectivity without cars,” former Dallas council member Angela Hunt said. “This is the type of infrastructure that does that. My hope is this type of infrastructure can be replicated across the city.”

Hunt was a major proponent of the Katy Trail extension and fought through snags and missed deadlines for years before passing the torch on to current District 14 council member Philip Kingston.

Hunt thanked Kingston for his continued effort over the past four years to “push, and push, and push,” to get the project across the finish line.

The opening of the Mockingbird bridge means runners and cyclists can connect from White Rock Lake to Victory Plaza by trail.

Council member Phillip Kingston talks at the bridge opening ceremony. (Photo: Bianca R. Montes)

The bridge spans the busy six lanes of Mockingbird Lane near North Central Expressway and serves as a connecting link to the popular Katy Trail, a recreational hub for runners, cyclists, dog walkers, and others looking to soak up some Vitamin D. It also offers safe connectivity to the complex of shops and restaurants at Mockingbird Station.

Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs, said the bridge will make the area — which has been dubbed SMU’s East Campus — a “better place, a safer place, a more fit place.”

The need for a safe crossing over the bustling Mockingbird Lane has been highlighted 16 times since December 2011.

According to news reports, 16 people trying to cross Mockingbird Lane near Central Expressway have been struck by vehicles since the 2011 projected opening date the city originally set. Two of them were killed.

The project initially was approved in Dallas’ 2006 bond package, but construction didn’t begin until 2013 due to unexpected delays spurred by land disputes and concerns over design.

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