We are very fortunate to have such an aggressive Bike and Pedestrian Plan in Richardson. The city planners are doing a great job retrofitting some new trails and bike lanes into an older, built-out infrastructure.
In that plan is the Central Trail, which will provide passage through Richardson. When completed, it will run through the central part of town, along the DART Rail Red Line, giving us, and all of our northern neighbors, a nice connection to the Dallas trail network.
Earlier this month, the City of Richardson presented the first draft of their plan to continue the Central Trail further south. Right now, the only existing part runs from Renner Road (patched through the Spring Creek Trail until it connects at Glenville Drive) to Arapaho Road. The new plan shows how the trail will continue from Arapaho Road, south towards Buckingham Road.
Although it’s a great plan, we feel that there are usability gaps within the existing part of the Central Trail that should be addressed as well. The following is our evaluation of the the part just south of Campbell Road and how we think it can be improved.
THE CURRENT TRAIL:
If you’ve walked or biked this part of the trail, you’ll be familiar with our references. Technically, the trail is complete from Campbell Road to Arapaho Road, which is why this section is not in the current extension plan. The concerns we have are with some minor aesthetics as well as some issues with usability that hinder the trail from being a complete success.
First, the minor aesthetics. About a third of a mile south from Campbell Road, you’ll note that the nicely paved trail ends. From there it becomes rough, narrow and overgrown with grass. This rough patch continues across and down the east side of Greenville Avenue until it reaches the Tecktronics parking lot at Collins Boulevard.
We realize that this is nitpicking, but if the City is spending the money to continue the trail, they should look into completing the trail experience by matching the rest of the trail.
Next is trail usability. Because of limited real estate next to the DART tracks, you can see why the trail jumps to the other side of Greenville Avenue. Since this trail leads to the DART Arapaho Station entrance, which is on the east side of Greenville Avenue, we’re okay with that. Considering the limitations in the existing infrastructure, we also understand how the trail runs narrow in some parts.
Our bigger concern is when the trail passes just south of the Arapaho DART Rail station. After the trail crosses Woodall Drive, it becomes a glorified sidewalk all the way to Arapaho Road. Here it’s too narrow for multi-use traffic. To make this worse, the shrubs along this part of the trail are overgrown and blocking even more space. In our opinion, this becomes a gap in the trail plan.
WE PROPOSE THIS SOLUTION:
Since the current plan to continue the Central Trail south from Arapaho Road starts on the WEST side of Greenville Avenue, perhaps we should look at crossing Greenville at Woodall Drive instead of Arapaho Road. This makes sense for a few reasons.
Let’s talk space. As mentioned, the limitations of real estate made sense to pull the trail to the east side of Greenville Avenue. This becomes less true at Woodall Drive. There is actually more space on the west side of Greenville Avenue at this point — plenty of space for a wider trail.
Let’s talk convenience. If you put a crossing at Woodall Drive and continue the trail from there, connecting the new new addition of the Central Trail (which is planned to start on the west side of Greenville Avenue) becomes more seamless.
Let’s talk safety. The current plan is to get trail traffic to cross the intersection at Greenville Avenue on the north side of Arapaho Road, and then cross Arapaho Road on the west side of Greenville Avenue. From experience, we know this to be an extremely busy intersection with lots of auto traffic coming from multiple directions. We feel that reducing the crossings at this intersections to just one would help with safety.
We realize that putting a crossing on Greenville Avenue, at Woodall Drive – an intersection not protected by traffic lights – might seem less safe. However, the trail already crosses Greenville Avenue – further north at Alma Road – under the same traffic conditions. If it’s safe enough at Alma Road, why not at Woodall Drive. In fact, we feel it’s easier for crossers to watch for auto traffic in just two directions instead of the many at Arapaho Road.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?:
Of course, this is all based on seat-of-our-pants, traveled experience on this trail and we haven’t pulled any statistical data that supports this as a better solution. We’d love to hear what you think about this. IF you’ve been on this part of the Central Trail, we’d like to hear your opinion on our solution and/or what you would do differently.
Click here to see a map.
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