|Coyotes hunting rabbits under the Continental Street Viaduct near Downtown Dallas, August 21, 2013|
It's a scene out of rural Texas. A coyote jump-hunting cottontail rabbits on a sun-soaked evening as the sun begins to set. A predator versus prey game that plays out countless times in a day across the state.
The work done here by the coyotes is one of pride and pleasure. You can see the smile on their faces as they jump from one clump of grass to another rousting a hiding rabbit from one hiding spot to the next.
The pancake flat grassland here is not one of a far flung rural farm, it sits in the heart of Dallas within view of the Old Red Dallas County Courthouse and almost underneath the Margaret Hunt Hill and Continental Street Bridges.
|Coyote bounding through high grass in the foreground, the old silver and red silos near Trinity Groves loom in the background|
Coyotes are highly adaptable and can survive in urban areas as long as food and shelter requirements are met. In urban areas coyotes will feed on almost anything including garbage, pet food, small cats and dogs, and other wild animals such as rodents, skunks, raccoons and birds. Coyotes typically hunt alone, however they may hunt in groups when food is abundant.
These particular coyotes have been here a number of years. I can recall the night shift watchmen during the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge construction comment on the coyotes who casually made their rounds in the evenings. The coyotes have learned that the day shift of construction workers would toss their lunch scraps around the job sites under the bridges. The coyotes here patrol the sites in the early evenings, going from one work site to the next.
|A coyote trotting along a newly cut dirt road and proposed new hike and bike trail alignment between the Sylvan Avenue and Continental Street Viaduct|
|Busy bee with the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge arch in the background|
You are more likely to get attacked by a swarm of killer bees than bitten by a coyote.
2013's Renewed Promise of a Trinity River Trail in Downtown
|Coyote yipping for her mate in a sea of grass|
|Coyote meandering towards the new Sylvan Avenue Bridge Project|
The look of open fields and a sea of grass might look different in the near future. Just this past week there was news from City Hall of a renewed promise for building trails inside the levees near Downtown Dallas. More can be read about the details in an article by Robert Wilonsky in the Dallas Morning News here: http://cityhallblog.dallasnews.com/2013/08/dallas-has-a-new-alignment-for-long-planned-trail-along-the-trinity-river-and-now-it-actually-runs-along-the-river.html/
The coyote, seen at right is standing on the proposed route, it is standing near the lip of the Pavaho Pump Station outlet canal and where the proposed route according to the Dallas Morning News Map would run.
Currently a dirt road already exists, cut late this spring that serves some unknown utilitarian purpose. Most likely in bridge construction or pipeline maintenance of some sort.
Quite a few people ride the new dirt roads down here. They are 90 degree, perpendicular off-shoots to the older levee roads and give a unique perspective to the river.
|New gravel culvert and road west of the Continental Viaduct|
One of the gripes of the levee road access is that it never gets you to the river. Separated hundreds of yards from the trees and river bank, the river itself always seems like a distant mirage.
|View from the Continental Street Viaduct looking west with the proposed trail alignment as seen currently as a dirt road|
|Potential view from the proposed alignment of the new trail|
This is not the first try at a trail between the levees. Many may recall a plan headed up this time of year in 2011 by city councilpeople Angela Hunt and Scott Griggs. Their simple idea was to build soft surface trails near Downtown Dallas inside the floodway.
Known as the Trinity Trail Project, it actually became a reality for a short time. The details of that are here http://teambetterblock.com/blog/2011/08/26/trinity-trail-project/. I actually rode the miles of trails cut inside the levees. That was a well thought out and unfortunately temporary path. I think those involved in that effort can see the fingerprints of their hard work in the new project. The local mountain bike group DORBA purchased a tow behind mower for that project, one that was never used. It is headed to two new projects on the Trinity River at Goat Island Preserve and Riverbend Preserve in Southern Dallas County. Those new trails, will use that mower than never saw use between the levees.
The 2012 Trail Idea
|Where the sidewalk ends. The west end of the concrete trail/road poured in the fall of 2012 that stretches from I-35 to the Trinity River Standing Wave and Trestle Trail|
|As seen in the Fall of 2012, the recently paved section of the concrete trail-maintenance road with the Corinth Street Viaduct in the background|
|Drilling piers for the new Margaret McDermott Bridge August 21, 2013|
|Rendering of the Margaret McDermott Bridge|
|Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, August 2013|
Given the number of construction vehicles, concrete trucks and semis trying to make the grade in and out of the levees, it was a real trick to navigate it on a bike.
With so many bridges currently under construction, closed for repairs or having trolley tracks installed, riding from the north side of the Trinity to the south on a bike is a real pickle at the moment.
|Houston Street Viaduct being retrofitted for a trolley line serving Oak Cliff|
|Piles of brand new trolley rails stacked along the Houston Street-Zang Blvd connection in Oak Cliff|
|Full moon crowning the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge as seen from the levee, August 21, 2013|