City of Dallas announces ‘alphabetical guidelines’ to limit crowds at popular Katy Trail

The city of Dallas announced on Monday it is limiting weekend access to the popular Katy Trail to reduce overcrowding.

Meanwhile, there's discussion to close a portion of Turtle Creek Boulevard in Uptown to add extra pedestrian space.

Cities across the country, like Philadelphia and Denver, have closed streets to allow more people room to roam. While Dallas is putting restrictions on Katy Trial, a city spokesperson says they're also considering closing almost a mile of city street.

Whether walking your dog, riding bikes or getting a run in, the Katy Trail is an oasis for people and pets in the midst of the pandemic.

But as of Thursday, new restrictions will limit who has access — and it’s based on last names.

The Dallas Park and Recreation Department announced Monday that people with last names starting with the letters A through L can use the trail Thursday and Saturday. People whose last names range from M to Z can use it Friday and Sunday. The trail is open to all on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said last month that he would not shut down the Katy Trail. But in a statement Monday, he said: “We cannot allow this amenity to become a health hazard.”

Officials have criticized overcrowding on the trail before. Since early April, Dallas city marshals have been on patrol reminding people to follow social distancing rules, but there's been no penalty to go with it.

The park department says it is implementing the ‘alphabetical guidelines’ after consulting Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang.

When Huang was asked if anyone is known to have contracted the virus after using the trail, he did not give a specific answer.

“That’s a little harder to trace,” Dr. Huang said. “Most of our transmission now is community transmission.”

Some, like Jacki Bruce, are wearing masks while working out on the trail. Although masks are not required while exercising, she says people do not stay six feet apart.

“I think they're trying to, but you only have so much space here,” Bruce said.

A spokesperson for the city says city leaders are now considering closing Turtle Creek Boulevard from Carlisle Street north to Blackburn. It would be almost a mile to allow more space for people to roam.

The transportation department has been working with city leaders to determine whether it is possible to close down Turtle Creek Boulevard. There's not a timeline right now for when that could happen.