It’s been 20 years since DART light rail expanded into Lake Highlands and the decades-old tradition of LHHS students painting the train trestle over Church Road was nixed for their safety. Before the modern yellow and white trains began whizzing along the track carrying commuters downtown, the trestle was a narrow, wooden crossing for freight trains passing through Dallas.
DART tried to block student access to the tracks, but it doesn’t take a degree in calculus or physics to know the shortest walking distance between many homes and the school is a beeline over the rails – and DART’s floppy chain link fence. This week, contractors began installing a taller, stronger fence to dissuade kids from putting their lives in danger.
“For over two plus years, we have been working with DART, Richardson ISD, the Lake Highlands Public Improvement District, neighboring apartment communities, and other community partners to advocate for a sustainable solution to discourage students from crossing the DART tracks to get to Lake Highlands High School,” wrote Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam McGough on social media. “After numerous meetings, DART agreed that a rod iron fence is the best long-term solution for a more permanent deterrent.”
Parents and neighbors are lifting kudos to DART and to all the folks who put student safety top-of-mind. They also recall the good old days with a smile.
“Painting the trestle is tradition, and that’s what Lake Highlands is all about,” Ryan Smith, senior and quarterback of the Wildcat football team, told Advocate editors in November of 1992. The painting effort was coordinated by various student groups over the years, including the Key Club, Student Council and senior class, and their slogans included “Ride With Pride,” “Now Entering Wildcat Country” and “Welcome to the Boneyard.”
After the bridge was painted, the students were charged with a task equally important – keeping their work safe from rivals at schools like Berkner and Bryan Adams. In 1986, students woke up Thursday morning of “Berkner Week” to find their work painted over with green paint. They stayed up painting all night to set it right.
The Lake Highlands Junior Women’s League is raising money to beautify the area around the trestle, and you can donate to their project here. The new DART fence is expected to be completed before school begins in August.