ARLINGTON — Work to fix Center Street, one of the most complained about roadways in Arlington, will begin this month.The Arlington City Council recently approved a nearly $4.5 million contract with RKM Utility Services of Dallas to rebuild a crumbling section of Center Street between Arkansas Lane and Nottinghill Gate Street. Other improvements to the four-lane concrete road, which runs past Vandergriff Park, include new sidewalks and streetlights and water and sanitary sewer renewals. Underground drainage improvements will also allow crews to remove the dips in the street that force motorists to slow down, Public Works and Transportation Director Keith Melton said. “Center Street is one of the ones we get the most calls on,” Melton said. “I’m excited as anyone to get this thing going.”The rebuild project, expected to be complete by October 2015, is being done one to two years earlier than expected because the city scaled back another major road project in the entertainment district, Melton said. That freed up bond money approved by voters in 2008.Arlington originally planned to create an underpass at the railroad crossing on Stadium Drive between Division and Abram streets. But when costs rose from the $20 million voters approved to $35 million, the city opted for an at-grade crossing and widening the roadway from four lanes to six lanes.Those less-expensive improvements, designed to help improve north-south mobility between Abram Street and Interstate 30, are expected to begin in October at a cost of $6.7 million.“Not having to fully fund the Stadium Drive project, it allowed us to move some projects forward. Center wouldn’t have been in a bond sale maybe next year or the year after depending on all the other priorities,” Melton said. “We wouldn’t have had the ability to sell that debt.”Improving walkabilityCenter Street is the main entrance to Vandergriff Park, which is also home of the Allen Bolden swimming pool, Bob Duncan Center, and the city’s largest public skate park. Using bond funds and a $100,000 Arlington Tomorrow Foundation grant, the city will add sidewalks as well as new trees, grass and irrigation along the park frontage to improve the look and walkability of the area. “I am sure that the road construction will create some pain during the process, but access to the park should not be impacted as only one direction of traffic will be under construction at a time,” Assistant Parks Director Matt Young said. “The rebuild will greatly enhance the visitor experience at our park amenities. It will provide a smoother commute, as well as improve the aesthetics of the neighborhood.”A walking trail loop, playground expansion and rebuild of the park pavilion and softball fields are also planned for Vandergriff Park. Construction started in March and should be complete next winter, Young said.“Once the park improvements and street rebuild projects are completed, we believe that it will look and feel like a completely different area,” Young said.New highway bridgeAnother Center Street improvement project is scheduled to kick off later this year. Crews will begin work building a four-lane bridge to extend Center Street over Interstate 20 between Highlander Boulevard and Bardin Road. That project, expected to be complete by March 2016, will cost an estimated $11.1 million.“It’s a long time coming,” Melton said of the planned Center Street improvements. “It will be nice to have an upgraded roadway that is a better reflection of Arlington.”That extension will provide an alternate route to the Arlington Highlands shopping center as well as provide better access to undeveloped land on the west side of the Arlington Municipal Airport to encourage private development, city officials have said. This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock