SOPAC TRAIL and its surrounding areas are receiving major lighting and pedestrian improvements this year.

The City Council and the Vickery Midtown Public Improvement District approved a partnership agreement, with the City accepting a $122,000 donation from the PID to cover its share of new SoPac Trail lighting.

When the trail was first developed more than 10 years ago, Dallas County built the foundation for lights, but there was no budget to install them, says David Whitley, Vickery Midtown PID executive director.

“We’ve been working with the City to try and figure that out because that’s something that we feel is important for folks to be able to really use that trail,” he says.

The PID completed design for more than 100 lights, with installation underway and expected to be completed this year, Whitley says. Lights will be added on the trail from Skillman Street to Greenville Avenue.

The PID also agreed to take over enhanced trail operations and maintenance, Whitley says, in addition to the baseline work provided by the City.

“We’ve got the opportunity to come in and direct some of our capital expenditures toward additional trail improvements, like looking at specific trailheads and figuring out if we want to put some amenities there to better connect those to the neighborhoods, as well as doing some programming and events,” Whitley says.

The 4.7-mile Southern Pacific, or SoPac, Trail was built in a former railroad corridor. It stretches from Moss Park in Lake Highlands to the western shore of White Rock Lake, where it connects with the White Rock Lake and Santa Fe trails.

The trail connections provide access to various neighborhoods, schools, parks and commercial centers. The PID has several projects in the works to further connect the trail and the community.

Another partnership with the City and the North Central Texas Council of Governments plans to revamp the Park Lane corridor, Whitley says.

“If you’re a pedestrian, it’s a pretty dodgy place to get across,” he says. “We have two schools right there at that location. We’re making sure that kids have safe access back and forth from school.”

A possible public plaza for the Park Lane area is also being negotiated with the City, Whitley says.

Later this spring, SoPac pedestrians and bikers should see colorful blooms along the trail. In December, the PID’s Beautification Committee planted wildflower seeds.

Friends of the SoPac Trail are also planning for additional amenities, such as a butterfly garden, benches and trash bins, along the trail. “We’re starting to think about some quick wins that can make a big difference,”

Whitley says. “We’re also thinking about some public art opportunities that we can start to introduce to the trail corridor as well.” Executing these projects will help address some of the surrounding neighborhoods’ needs, Whitley says.

“We’re really trying to think big picture and think about how all of these investments can work together,” he says. “A lot of folks who live and work here might either walk or bike to where they’re needing to go. Making sure there’s somewhere safe for them to do that is a priority. It’s very important for the livability of the neighborhood.”

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to credit the Vickery Midtown Public Improvement District’s involvement in these projects, not the Lake Highlands Public Improvement District.