The future of McKinney could include a deck park on State Highway 5.
Gary Graham, the city’s engineering director, said Tuesday that discussions have been underway with the Texas Department of Transportation and the North Central Texas Council of Governments regarding a potential deck park that would connect stretch across Highway 5, possibly between Virginia and Louisiana streets.
“With all the redevelopment we have happening on the east side of Highway 5, we want to bridge the two areas and help re-establish a connection that was taken away when Highway 5 was originally constructed,” Graham said.
The discussion comes after city staff completed a high-level deck park feasibility study in July 2020. The study examined multiple options, including “depressing” a portion of the SH5 roadway to make way for a deck park that would sit on top. One option considered having a park between Virginia and Louisiana streets, a project that the study projected could cost between $40-50 million.
Graham said the deck park could impact projects in the area, including a Texas Department of Transportation-led reconstruction project on SH5, which is currently under design.
He told McKinney City Council members that to move forward, TxDOT is asking the city to do some “due diligence” by undergoing an initial feasibility study. The study would include looking at potential impacts, including access to the city’s historic downtown, drainage, public input and access for existing businesses.
“We don’t want to get into the design phase with TxDOT and not have an idea of how we’re going to address these,” Graham said.
Graham said the study would involve looking at a “full range of alternatives.”
Some alternatives he discussed included city-funded at grade enhancements and a pedestrian bridge. The July study included looking at the potential of a raised pedestrian bridge crossing the highway rather than a full deck park.
“It’s something that I think we need to look at, but I’m not sure we would have a lot of...I don’t know if it would be a successful alternative to consider,” Graham said Tuesday.
Graham also mentioned the possibility of eventually taking SH5 “off-system” after the reconstruction project had finished, which he said would give the city more flexibility with how to develop the area.
Looking ahead, Graham said, the contract for the feasibility study will come before the City Council in November. The City Council would get an update on phase one of the study efforts by the first quarter of 2022, and public outreach would begin in the second quarter. The City Council would then get an update on that input and give direction to city staff.
On Tuesday, Graham used Klyde Warren Park and Southern Gateway, both in Dallas, as examples of what the park could be. Councilman Frederick Frazier later said that before Klyde Warren Park opened in Dallas, it had been the subject of worries about traffic and lack of use, each of which he said hadn’t come true.
“It completely unified two parts of a city,” Frazier said. “And it’s just beautiful. It’s an absolutely beautiful place, and you don’t think of uptown or downtown anymore, you just think of Klyde Warren.”