Some background: With the widening of Transmountain, the current entrance and exit from the Tom Mays Unit of the Franklin Mountains State Park will become even more dangerous than it is today. Although the TxDOT plan to widen Transmountain does not address this danger, most people are reasonably concerned. Some alternative plans have been proposed.
Dr. Richard Bonart DVM, a member of the PSB recently gave a presentation with his suggestions:
Bonart Plan for Access to Tom Mays
His suggestion puts an access road alongside Transmountain to the north and takes into account planned hike and bike trails. (Slide 4) It also makes mention of existing culverts just to the east of the current entrance that could be retrofitted to become solely an animal corridor with use by hikers and mountain bikers as well. (Slide 5) The model for the corridor would be those used in Oregon (Slide 6).
The alternative proposed today in a presentation given by Pat Adauto is similar to Dr. Bonart's. It provides an access road off of Paseo del Norte (as does Dr. Bonart's) and enters the park a bit to the north of Bonart's - using an existing trail that is the beginning of the southern route of the current Lower Sunset Trail. That alternative also has the advantage of following a road to be built to a "resort" as approved earlier by City Council. Indeed this route was also mentioned years ago by Dr. Bonart to TxDOT.
Too often some people see those of us in the conservation/environmental community as in lock-step singular agreement on all things. For example, I don't always agree with the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coaltion and vice versa. I don't write for the Open Space Board nor am I affiliated in any fashion with Frontera Land Alliance, a non-political/non-profit land trust organization. I recently encouraged members of a neighborhood association to oppose a recommendation for a zoning change given by OSAB to the City Plan Commission. I was one of only two votes against this egregious recommendation - enough said at least for now. Obviously some in the conservation community take quite an exception to my views about the ballpark (more on that later). And the recent election put many of us in the O'Rourke camp and many in the Reyes camp. We have our differences and we aren't all the same though we share common goals.
One proposal from the conservation community for access to the State Park would build an interchange off of Transmountain about where there is an existing runnaway lane. That interchange would provide an underpass for safe entrance to and exit from the park. It could also be utilized by animals for nocturnal passage. Although this plan would provide safe access and egress for motorized vehicles and human beings, I have two serious reservations about it. First, the interchange would be a mini-spaghetti bowl blocking the view shed of the mountain. Second, I really don't want to mix vehicles with animals even if you expect no cars after 10 p.m. and animals only from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. (Animals can be rather sloppy about their time keeping.) I've seen Mule Deer out during the day - many in those parts.
The PSB's Alternative 1 also means that a resort can become a grand entryway into the park - an encouragement to get people outdoors and an opportunity for eco-tourism and eco-tourist dollars for the City as well as places for retreats, strategic planning, museum space. Think of a place like Indian Lodge in the Davis Mountains State Park. A mini-spaghetti bowl only eats up more natural open space. A simple access road tied into an Indian Lodge-type resort provides an opening into natural open space.
Not only did the PSB recommend Alterantive 1 but they recommended the Bonart animal corridor at the place where the culverts are now.
So stop it, PSB! You're ruining my reputation!
Actually, keep it up!