Dallas City Hall Battles Oncor Over How the City Can Spruce Up its Trails

Categories: City Hall

katytrailextension.jpg
Wouldn't it be prettier with some trees.
The swaths of land that run underneath Oncor's electric transmission lines are in many ways ideal spots for jogging trails. They stretch for miles, are largely free of obstructions and are controlled by a single entity, eliminating the types of property issues that would make construction anywhere else a logistical nightmare. The electric utility has been amenable to the idea as well, allowing Dallas to develop a trail system that will, eventually, connect virtually the entire city.

That's all fantastic. It's only natural, though, that neighbors and trail users would want to spruce things up a bit. Some shade would be nice to turn the summer broil to merely a high-heat bake, as would a bit of vegetation to break the monotony of the arrow-straight stretches of lightly browned grass. It would seem like a simple thing to line the trail with shrubs or crepe myrtles, but it never is. Oncor has strict rules for what can go beneath the transmission lines and, according to park director Paul Dyer and several City Council members, those rules change a lot.

"It's been so bad," Dyer said, clearly exasperated. "We've managed to put amenities in, and they take them out."

At a meeting at City Hall Monday morning, Dyer said the park department has been trying for years to get clear guidelines for what is allowed along the trails, how high it can be and where it can be located, but that's never happened. What's OK with one Oncor representative one day is suddenly a no-no when that person is replaced.

Oncor spokeswoman Catherine Cuellar, who was not at the meeting, said over the phone that creating a set of uniform guidelines would be difficult, since the required clearance varies depending on the transmission line and its voltage. Also, national standards imposed by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. have grown increasingly strict over the years, meaning that what was fine when one project being built several years ago might not be OK now.

But the lack of consistency is maddening to Dyer, and his frustration was shared by council members Angela Hunt and Sandy Greyson, who convinced the committee to send Oncor a strongly worded letter.

"The idea that they won't work with us to come up with set of standardized requirements, and that we've been working on this for eight years, it's unacceptable," Hunt said.

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14 comments
RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Oncor doesn't have to let the city put trails there at all.  Classic case of giving someone an inch and them wanting a mile.  Build your damn trails, run, walk or bike on them, and shut the hell up.

 

Just my opinion, but, I'm an anti-social a$$, so I may not be worth listening to.

skramer65
skramer65

Y'all seem to be ignoring the most important quote in this story: "National standards imposed by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. have grown increasingly strict over the years, meaning that what was fine when one project being built several years ago might not be OK now." If NERC finds Oncor in violation of one of its reliability standards, it could face huge fines, and who do you think will ultimately pay those fines? That's right; its customers!

jerikjonsson
jerikjonsson

These utility easements are nearly absolute under Texas law.  Oncor's not required to trim the trees; it could just cut them down.  And it could put up fences on either edge of the easement and exclude everyone from using them.

 

But as others have pointed out, Oncor needs to keep Dallas happy, and giving us just a few guidelines about trail amenities and use seems like the least it could do.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

Since the main purpose of these right-of-ways is to provide reliable electric power, I say nothing should go there but the trails themselves. Where possible, build the trails along the edge of the right-of-ways where they can take advantage of shade provided by plants and structures outside of the right-of-way.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

How about looking around and seeing what other communities are doing along these easements .

And try to remember the reason that space is there is in case repairs or replacements are required so options might be limited .

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Planting any trees at all is silly. Look what Oncor does to trees. Take a walk down the Katy Trail, particularly behind the steakhouse on Cedar Springs. What were once beautiful oaks now look like beach umbrellas.

ObserverHatesFacts
ObserverHatesFacts

"

his frustration was shared by council members Angela Hunt and Sandy Greyson, who convinced the committee to send Oncor a strongly worded letter.

"The idea that they won't work with us to come up with set of standardized requirements, and that we've been working on this for eight years, it's unacceptable," Hunt said."

 

Oncor should tell her to eat shit.

BillHolston
BillHolston

We walked to White Rock Creek from the area off of Pemberton Hills along Oncor right of way this weekend. A simple mowing is all this requires for a fantastic hike. As people plan these trails, please consider leaving some trails unpaved. It is vastly superior for walking. 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

 @ObserverHatesFacts You know, I thought about it, and I weighed your words, considered them, and I came to the conclusion that you, ObserverHatesFacts, should eat shit. A great big steaming plateful. So -- eat shit.

Daniel
Daniel

 @ObserverHatesFacts Oncor needs the city more than the city needs John Gal-- more than the city needs Oncor. 

 

 

ObserverHatesFacts
ObserverHatesFacts

 @JimSX But where is Joe Tone to tell you to "put your knives away" 

 

Elevate your TONE man.

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