Coming soon: Trail access to White Rock Lake from Arboretum Village

SoPac Gaston Avenue

Sometime this spring, trail users will be able to hop on a sidewalk at Gaston’s Arboretum Village shopping center, cross a White Rock Creek tributary via a new bridge, land on the Santa Fe Trail, and head either northwest to the lake or southeast to The Lot.

It’s officially called the “SoPac Gaston Avenue Connection,” though its nickname had been “the YMCA connection” because the idea to connect this strip center to the lake first arose more than six years ago when the White Rock YMCA was located roughly where Lakewood Ace Hardware now sits. Since then, however, Lincoln Property Co. bought the strip center and the Y announced a new location across Gaston Avenue.

Both Lincoln and the adjacent Edge at White Rock apartments agreed to donate portions of their parking lot and alley to public easement, so Dallas County, which is funding the $1.2 million project, extended the connection another 1,000 feet to Gaston Avenue.

SoPac Gaston Connection

“When we were looking at the project five or six years ago, just a connecting bridge over the creek to the YMCA was all we were planning to do,” says project manager Tushar Solanki. But in that scenario, the only public access would be via a private parking lot, he says. “That’s why we stretched the sidewalk all the way to Gaston,” Solanki says. “That was the most important thing to do to justify the public dollar spending.”

Matt Lucas, owner of Luke’s Locker, is hoping the timing of the connection’s opening coincides closely with the opening of his company’s Arboretum Village store, which is projected to be April 1.

“It’s one of the reasons we were comfortable going to that location,” Lucas says, “because it totally takes away street crossing for people who want to access the lake from that side.”

Sponsored Message

It’s tough to say whether people south of the Arboretum Village property will realistically cross Gaston to use the trail connection; currently the only safe (and we use that word loosely) crosswalk is at West Shore. Lincoln recently commissioned traffic consultants to look at the possibility of a stoplight at Tucker, however, so a crosswalk there may be part of the city’s consideration. Lincoln also agreed to let people use its Arboretum Village parking lot to access the trail.

At a Greater East Dallas Chamber event last fall, Lincoln’s Robert Dozier called the connection “a huge attribute for our center and for the White Rock area and East Dallas area.” He envisioned not only people accessing the lake from Arboretum Village, but also customers riding their bikes and walking their dogs to the center via the trail connection.

Though the Arboretum Village connection (as we’ll now refer to it) connects directly to the Santa Fe Trail, and from there to the White Rock Lake and White Rock Creek trails, the connection is identified as part of the SoPac Trail that will run 1.8 miles along the old Union Pacific Railroad tracks between the White Rock trails near Lawther to a location near Trammel and Fisher. Construction on the SoPac is slated to begin this summer.

SoPac trail veloway map

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.
Written By
More from Keri Mitchell

Anyone remember “East Dallas Today”?

I did end up heading to Super Target on Tuesday night to...
Read More
  • Pingback: Untangling the White Rock area trail system updates: Katy Trail Extension and SoPac - Lakewood()

  • Pingback: Untangling the White Rock area trail system updates: Katy Trail Extension and SoPac - Lake Highlands()

  • sz

    Slow down is great, but it’s also way to congested.

  • Wilson!

    There’s a two-word answer. Slow down.

    Problem, solved!

  • Wilson!

    And if they had made it a walkable village shopping center, you’d still complain about something. The restaurant patio umbrellas aren’t big enough. There aren’t enough pooper scooper bags in the doggie pottie station. Because East Dallas likes to complain. That’s why they built it that way and called it a village, so you could go on being unhappy with everything that changes.

    Now go on and grab a burrito at that Chipotle you hate, if you have the time to wait, and enjoy your 5-times-a-week Starbucks from the coffee shop you hate.

  • Well Well

    It is great that there is connectivity, I am all for more trails and pedestrian friendly streets and walkability, but Can someone explain to me why that crummy suburban strip mall is being called a “village”? It is making the road very dangerous and visually it’s ugly. It would have been nice to have sidewalks and walkability, maybe some outdoor patios and restaurants, but no we got a stripmall marauding as a village. Lincoln properties ruined east Dallas for me. And now the intersection is more congested and dangerous.

  • Val England

    So glad to see the connector coming to the Arboretum Village. This has been a vision since the day the YMCA opened in 2001 at this location. Even though it won’t service the YMCA, it will still be a great way to connect outdoor enthusiasts to Luke’s Locker, Starbucks, PetSmart, and maybe a future cycle and/or fitness training center will join the Arboretum Village.

  • sz

    I’m surprised there hasn’t been more discussion about the traffic on that part of Gaston and the danger to pedestrians and even cars just slowing down to turn there. I see people jaywalking there all the time. With more businesses going in and the new YMCA opening, there will be even more traffic and more bikes and pedestrians. Can we address the mess before someone is killed?

  • RonM

    It’s a much needed connection. However, I was around when this YMCA connection was originally proposed, and that’s what soured me on the project. At that time, it was packaged for approval for with what was then called the East Dallas Veloway (now SoPac Trail). There was supposedly funding for this project, but not for SoPac, which led to suspicions. Why pass it off as a part of SoPac? It became obvious that it was for the benefit of the owners of the property, paid for with city funds. The cost then was $900 thousand. Recently, Lincoln Properties received a grant for $1 million– for construction of a grocery store. With the current grant for the trail, the total is over $2 million. Wow. At a time when the the city is claiming that there is no funding for bicycling infrastructure!

    Since then, The Lot paid $20,000 to build a bridge to serve its restaurant, and from what I’ve heard, it was worth every penny. This is good; it demonstrates that it pays to acknowledge bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

    The question is, “Why doesn’t Lincoln Properties use it’s own funds to build the connection?” Because they don’t have to? The $1million plus gives Lincoln Properties an advantage that the Lot, and the businesses across Gaston, will never have. That’s not fair.

    As currently configured, Lincoln Properties has turned its back on the Santa Fe Trail. That is, there is no restaurant / bar / establishment that faces the Santa Fe trail and thus, takes advantage of it in the way The Lot and the Kay Ice House (on the the Katy Trail). Maybe some day.