WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — On Thursday TxDOT denied the City of Wichita Falls’ request for grants that would pay for the completion of the Circle Trail, including the controversial portion off Lake Shore Drive.
This made the second time Wichita Falls had been denied this request.
The majority of the project has been completed, with the exception of areas within Lucy Park and the Lake Wichita shoreline, so for the next several months, it doesn’t look like any progress will be made.
3.1 million dollars is the estimated cost to finish the remainder of Circle Trail, a cost that the city won’t be able to come up with any time soon.
On Thursday, October 29, the Texas Department of Transportation Commission awarded $54.7 million to over 40 communities across the state, Wichita Falls not being one of them.
“It’s a competitive grant — I guess the commission felt there were other communities that were probably in a little bit better need,” Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana said. “We’ve come a long way, so we’re not trying to start a new project; we’re trying to complete ours. A lot of times if you get rejected one year, the next year you might move up the list, so we’ll see where we’re at.”
This rejection comes as a possible blessing to those who live on Lake Shore Drive; residents and business owners have made numerous complaints about the project, claiming the trail would be built too close to their properties.
Santellana hopes that those opposed can take this time to find out how it’s impacted others who live near completed portions of the trail.
“Every person I’ve talked to had zero issue with it and actually enjoyed the fact that they had the trail next to it,” Santellana said. “I have communities right now that want arterials off the trail and into their neighborhoods, so they can get traffic from their neighborhood to the trail and vice versa.”
He said he hopes more residents will look deeper into the project as well.
“I think some of the misinformation out there about property values, impact of the environment, etc. —sometimes I think it takes a little more in-depth research to realize that trails don’t increase crime rates,” Santellana said. “They decrease crime rates, they help with the property values, it’s an added amenity to any community.”
For now, Santellana said the project will be shelved until additional funds are raised.
The city plans to re-apply for these grants in 2022 and will wait to create any design plans until the funding has been approved.