Road reconstruction decision left to residents

According to the city of Fort Worth, $33 million has been set aside to improve the layout of neighborhood streets as part of a bond program, with several projects slated for the TCU area. However, whether the bond passes will be up to residents.

The Fort Worth City Council will allow voters to decide the outcome of a $150 million bond proposal May 10. Included in the proposal are plans to reconstruct West Lowden Street, which is located in the TCU area.

Sandy Oliver, assistant director of finance for the city of Fort Worth, said the bond proposal would include $33 million improvements in neighborhood streets, $81 million in changes to arterial or major streets and $22.2 million in improvements to city bridges.

The bond proposal is part of an effort to improve the infrastructure of the city, with an emphasis on bettering neighborhood streets and major roadways, Oliver said.

“We’ve had so many citizens that have complained about the quality of their streets and we wanted to do something about it,” Oliver said. “Anytime you have growth, you have to have infrastructure in place to get people where they want to go quicker.”

Oliver said the city doesn’t anticipate a tax increase being needed to pay for these improvements. However, she said $150 million is the most the city could provide without raising residents’ taxes.

City spokesman Jason Lamers said there are more than 79 arterials, or major streets, that need to be fixed. Also needing reconstruction are 480 miles of neighborhood streets, he said.

Lamers said the growth of the city has prompted officials to devise a plan for better travel in Fort Worth.

“You see the result in landscape and roadways in areas such as TCU and the difference is night and day,” Lamerssaid.

Lamers said the City Council approved a $150 million capital needs bond program last year that only addressed the issue of improving roads.

He said reconstructing all of the major roadways, as well as neighborhood streets, would require more than $1 billion.

One main project that would be included in the proposal is the reconstruction of Pennsylvania Avenue in the medical district, Lamers said.

Mark Rauscher, transportation manager for the transportation and public works department, said most of the needed road improvements for District 9, where TCU is located, are neighborhood streets.

“We’re kind of scraping the tip of the iceberg with this bond program,” Rauscher said. “Because of all the needs, the wanted improvements in this bond program weren’t able to fit in previous plans.”

Rauscher said the city has had to tackle infrastructure needs a little at a time, but he said crowded streets and highways have put pressure on the city to act fast.

“The rapid growth is surpassing the city’s ability to develop adequate road infrastructure,” he said. “We have staff that drive across the city each day and assesses roadways, and we keep track of the needs on a daily basis.”

Don Koski, senior transportation planner for the city of Fort Worth, said the factors driving growth in the city are the creation of jobs, the relatively low cost of living and the migration of people from other states.