Some concern over plans for extension of Katy Trail



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Posted on April 7, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 7 at 10:19 PM

DALLAS - The Katy Trail is about to get longer, and for some that's too much of a good thing.

Plans call for adding 8.5 miles to the trail, which some homeowners say could intrude on their privacy and property.

Many people have said they're all for the extension.

"Absolutely wonderful," said Tawnia Mitchell of the plan.

However, those people will not have the trail snaking behind their home.

"I don't want it here," said Jackie West, who fears just that. "I bought this house specifically for no alley back here."

After more than a decade of talking and planning, the Katy Trail is about to go from about 5.5 miles to 14 miles long. The existing section stretches from the American Airlines Center to McCommas Boulevard at Central Expressway.

The new section will go all the way to White Rock Lake, much of which will hug the existing DART rail line. That is where West's property is located on Trammel Drive. At the moment, she's not a big fan of the City of Dallas.

"They give us all different information, and they're not forthright with their answers," she said.

West said she would like to know the when and where of the plan, specifically if it will "take over" her property.

"I'm concerned about somebody getting in my backyard or throwing something over the fence that would hurt my dogs," West said.

While plans do call for purchasing small pieces of property from Mockingbird Station and the Palomar Hotel, they do not call for using any of West's backyard, 15-feet of which technically belongs to the city.

"It doesn't interfere with the project," said Rick Galceran, Dallas Public Works. "There's no need to do anything with that."

Instead the city is asking that homeowners allow them to replant existing trees, moving them away from the trail side and into the fenced-in yards.

"We don't really need permission, but we really want to work with the neighbors and say, 'Is it okay if we put these trees here?'" Galceran said.

What won't be part of the Katy Trail extension is a wider strip of concrete. Last year, jogger Lauren Huddleston died of a head injury when she was hit by a biker. That led to a push for wider lanes.

"I think it needs to be a dual path," said Doug Unger, a Katy trail user. "And, it needs to be clear which side is for pedestrians versus bikes because that seems to be the biggest thing."

That did not make it into the design. Instead, the city will continue to emphasize improved signage, signaling and education.

"It's almost like saying, 'Shouldn't we have done away with all traffic accidents? Vehicular traffic accidents?'" Galceran said. "Well, we're not there yet."

It's growing pains for the much-loved Katy trail.
The entire $6.8 million expansion will be complete by fall of next year.