ARLINGTON — Three downtown Arlington streets will soon become narrower with the addition of designated bike lanes.Using federal grant funds, Arlington plans to add 4.4 miles of bike lanes and 3.4 miles of bike routes that will stretch from downtown and the University of Texas at Arlington north to River Legacy Parks. The projects are part of 74 miles of on-street bicycle facilities recommended in the long-term Hike and Bike System Master Plan, which was adopted by City Council in 2011.“We are starting around our downtown and university and then building our system from that core outward, trying to connect into our activity centers and our parks,” said Community Development and Planning Director Jim Parajon.As part of the plan, some downtown streets will be reduced from four traffic lanes to three to allow the addition of the separately striped, narrower bike lanes. Changes will include a 1-mile stretch of UTA Boulevard/East Border Street between South Davis Drive and South Mesquite Street; a 1.3-mile stretch of Mitchell Street between South Davis Drive and Mary Street; and a half-mile stretch of South Pecan Street between West Mitchell Street and West Park Row Drive.Striped bike lanes will also be added to a 1.6-mile section of the two-lane Lincoln Drive between Northeast Green Oaks and East Lamar boulevards in north Arlington, but the change will not reduce traffic lanes.The outside traffic lanes on two other streets will be designed as bike routes, which mean both vehicles and bicycles will share the lanes. Changes will affect a section of Center and Mesquite streets from East Lamar Boulevard to East Park Row Drive and a small section of East Lovers Lane from Wynn Terrace to Daniel Drive in east Arlington. These lanes will be painted with a bicycle and a double arrow, and caution signs will be installed along the route, graduate planner Christina Sebastian said. Arlington currently has very few on-street bike lanes and bike routes.In 2001, the city received a $187,200 grant from the Texas Department of Transportation to create on-street bicycle amenities, but the city decided to wait to use a majority of the funds until a master plan was adopted, Parajon said. A small amount of the grant funds was used to stripe bike lanes on sections of Calender Road in southwest Arlington and Center Street near downtown in 2006.The city plans to use the remainder of the grant funding on the latest 7.8 miles of planned bike lanes and bike routes.“It’s a pretty low-cost way to start to encourage bicycling throughout our city,” Parajon said.The work could begin as early as next month and is expected to be complete by May, depending on final design approval from TxDOT and weather conditions, Sebastian said. Arlington also added bike lanes to Norwood Lane between South Fielder Road and West Abram Street last year and is currently working on a half-mile bike route on Lovers Lane between Daniel Drive and New York Avenue.Arlington’s Hike and Bike Master Plan also calls to add 149 miles of sidewalks and 64 miles of off-street trails to promote walking and cycling as well as public education programs to improve bicycling and pedestrian safety.The Parks and Recreation Department recently completed nearly 4.5 miles of off-road hike and bike trails at the Rush Creek, Sublett Creek, Marrow Bone Spring and Bowman Branch linear parks. The city is also adding locator signs every quarter-mile along the main trails and mountain bike trails at Fish Creek Linear Park and River Legacy Parks to help users communicate with 911 operators where they are in case of an emergency, Parks Project Manager Kurt Beilharz said.
Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock