Potential Benefits of the Trinity River Project of Dallas

The people of Dallas have historically had a somewhat troubled relationship with the Trinity River. It isn’t navigable enough to use it for shipping, but it does sometimes flood and cause problems with the land and roads nearby. However, in 1996 the Trinity River Corridor Citizens Committee came up with plans for the Trinity River Project of Dallas, which began construction in 2005 and is expected to be completed by 2021. This economic development project will turn the river corridor into the largest urban park in the United States, as the proposed area is even larger than Central Park in Manhattan.

Recreational Facilities

This 10,000-acre park will contain a wide variety of recreational facilities to be enjoyed by the citizens of Dallas and visitors to the city. These include a horse park, trails, pedestrian bridges, a golf course, soccer parks, boat launches, a whitewater rafting area, and a community center. There are plans to build a playground, and by the end of the project, the plan calls for housing, shops, offices, and restaurants as well. An Audubon center has already been completed, along with many of the accompanying nature trails, and two man-made lakes are planned under the bridges that are being constructed as part of the project. These will be right near the entrance of downtown Dallas. Also included is the Dallas Wave, which turns a section of the river into a whitewater area. The proposed area of the project includes the Great Trinity Forest, which is one of the largest forests with the limits of a city. It includes 4,677 acres of forested land and 1,410 acres of grassland as well as 1,001 acres of management stands.

Help With Traffic

There are plans to run a four- to six-lane parkway through the nature district to help minimize the traffic downtown on other roads and make it easier for people to get where they need to go in the park. This parkway will be a toll road and was originally planned to be located outside the park area, so there is some controversy over this part of the Trinity River Project. The Environmental Impact Statement and Feasibility Report was completed in 2015 for the parkway, but plans are still on hold for actually starting the construction. This is partly due to a lack of earmarked funding, with only about 10 percent or less of the proposed cost having been raised. There’s also a concern about the parkway flooding because of the proposed location between the two levees. By the time the Trinity River project is completed, five bridges will connect the park with the downtown area. There is also hope that they may be able to make the river navigable for cargo ships all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Flood Relief

The entire project is in a flood zone, so all of the plans need to be carefully planned and approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers before implementation. However, the designers of the project are aiming to design the park so any flooding will be controlled and directed into the areas that can best handle it through sloped areas that will absorb the water, called bioswales, and wetlands areas. They are also improving on existing levees, extending and raising them to better protect downtown from flooding. Sports fields and paved trails that would be most damaged by any flooding will be located in more elevated areas that are further from the river to minimize the risk.


The timeline for the project keeps getting extended as issues, including a lack of funding, push back proposed completion dates. The overall design has also changed a number of times since the project was first conceived, with changes made as recently as 2016. The Audubon Center was completed and opened in 2008, as was Trinity Overlook Park. In 2010, the Trinity Strand Trail was finished, completing Turtle Creek Plaza. By 2012, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge was completed as well as the Santa Fe Trestle Trail. As of 2013, the Amphitheater and Moore Park Gateway Pavilion are open, and 2014 saw the opening of the Trinity Skyline Trail and Continental Avenue Bridge. The third bridge, the Margaret McDermott Bridge, is expected to be completed in 2017.

For more information see: Trininty River Project