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Oak Cliff’s Five Mile Creek Trail Project Gets $6.5 Million Boost from Federal Grant

U.S. Secretary for Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced the RAISE grants on Wednesday. Dallas’ will go toward finishing design and engineering for the nearly 17-mile trail through southern Oak Cliff.
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Five Mile Creek in southern Oak Cliff, which is part of the same geographic escarpment that created the Hill Country in Central Texas. Matt Goodman

The federal government has awarded the city of Dallas a $6.5 million grant to finish designing and engineering the remainder of the Five Mile Creek trail from U.S. 67 into the Trinity Forest through southern Oak Cliff.

The money comes from President Joe Biden’s discretionary RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) grant program, a $2.2 billion pool for which state and local governments can apply to pay down infrastructure projects that reconnect communities.

The money will be paid to the city of Dallas, which will then work with the nonprofit Trust for Public Land as a partner. The Trust is leading the project, which will include three new parks and 17 miles of trail that extend east from near the Westmoreland DART station into the Trinity Forest. It will link up with the under-construction 50-mile Loop Trail near the existing AT&T Trail and connect to points north.

This is the only grant awarded to the city of Dallas during the 2023 disbursements; the federal government awarded $2.2 billion in grants but received about $15 billion in applications.

“This is another shot in the arm for the project,” says Robert Kent, the Trust’s Texas director. “This is the momentum we need to move this thing to the finish line.”

five mile creek trail map
The Trust’s master plan for Five Mile Creek takes inspiration from George Kessler’s 1909 comprehensive plan for Dallas. Courtesy Dallas Park and Recreation

The organization has secured $27.5 million in commitments for Five Mile, Kent says, funded in part by private philanthropy and public dollars provided by Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the North Central Texas Council of Governments. DART allowed the city to allocate $10 million in excess sales tax revenue for the project, and the NCTCOG matched with $5.4 of its own money. It has other commitments from Lyda Hill Philanthropies and the Boone Family Foundation.

This is actually one of the oldest infrastructure ideas floating around Dallas. George Kessler first presented similar opportunities in his 1909 comprehensive plan, imagining using creeks and greenspaces as development opportunities. The 1944 Bartholomew Plan imagined parks and trails along Five Mile Creek, but it was never built out. The waterway is responsible for draining water from nearly 70 square miles in Oak Cliff and southwest Dallas. It is the northernmost point of the Balcones Fault Zone, the escarpment that is responsible for creating the Hill Country.

It has taken more than 80 years for dirt to move. The Dallas Park and Recreation Department adopted a master plan for the Five Mile Creek corridor in 2019, which was created by the design firm TBG Partners. Since then, the Trust has been raising money and moving forward with what it can afford. So far, that includes the 1.8-acre South Oak Cliff Renaissance Park, across from South Oak Cliff High. That opened in 2021 and features LED lights, wifi, a trail, a basketball court, exercise equipment, and a climbing boulder.

The 40-acre Judge Charles R. Rose Community Park is under construction near the southernmost junction of the trail, by Paul Quinn College. Woody Branch will be a new 82-acre nature preserve near the Glen Oaks neighborhood. The trail will connect with amenities like Kiest Park, the Chalk Hill Trail, and the nonprofit For Oak Cliff.

The feds write that the “project connects communities within the region that are separated by a river. It is expected to reduce injuries and fatalities by reducing vehicle-pedestrian conflicts within the corridor.”

“The Five Mile Creek Greenbelt will have a big impact or Oak Cliff and our entire city,” read a prepared statement from Arun Agarwal, the chair of the Dallas Park and Recreation Board. “From better health outcomes for residents to connectivity to retail, education, healthcare, and other transit options, this grant will help Dallas in a big way and help benefit part of communities which most need this linkage.”

It will also provide protected pedestrian access to grocery stores and other amenities that are presently most accessible by car. The RAISE grant will also pay for a feasibility study for “complete street” elements—wide sidewalks, greenspace, bike lanes—on Marsalis Avenue from Kiest Boulevard to Ledbetter Road and along Simpson Stuart Road from Paul Quinn College to the Joppa Preserve.

“Today’s announcement is a major milestone in Trust for Public Land’s effort to bring to life the 80-year-old vision for the Five Mile Creek Greenbelt,” Kent wrote in a statement. “We are grateful to Secretary Buttigieg and the U.S. Department of Transportation for their confidence in us to move this project forward.”

Elsewhere in North Texas, Dallas Area Rapid Transit received a $25 million grant to pay for 5.2 miles of trail adjacent to the upcoming Silver Line train project through Far North Dallas into Plano. It will begin at Meandering Way in Dallas and extend to Shiloh Road in Plano.

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Matt Goodman

Matt Goodman

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Matt Goodman is the online editorial director for D Magazine. He's written about a surgeon who killed, a man who…
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