From a traffic point of view, west Fort Worth is a victim of its own popularity.
Intersections at University Drive, West Lancaster Avenue and West Seventh Street are often clogged with vehicles, as residents and visitors battle for space heading to and from homes, museums, restaurants, shops and other attractions.
But Fort Worth city and school district officials are near agreement on a long-considered plan to provide some traffic relief. The idea is to extend Trail Drive through what is now the Farrington Field parking lot. Trail Drive currently runs south of the Will Rogers Memorial Center livestock barns from Montgomery Street to University Drive.
The new eastern extension, roughly a third of a mile long, would merge with West Lancaster Avenue at Currie Street, providing access for motorists trying to get to and from restaurants and retail shops in the West Seventh neighborhood.
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The extension would be an alternative for motorists trying to navigate west Fort Worth without getting stuck at long traffic signals at University Drive and West Lancaster, or University Drive and West Seventh Street — both busy intersections.
“The benefits are, it helps people avoid those intersections, and it allows people to get to I-30 more quickly,” said Susan Alanis, assistant city manager. She said the project also would make better use of undeveloped land on the western edge of Trinity Park and make the Van Zandt Cottage, a city-owned historic landmark, more accessible to the public.
But Alanis and several other officials cautioned that the extension could be several years away. The multimillion-dollar project isn’t funded, and money might not be available until the city has another bond election, possibly in 2018 or 2019, she said. Tarrant County officials also could be asked to help with funding.
Also, the city and school district are still negotiating a deal for an easement to build the road across Farrington Field parking lots.
But the idea, which has been around since the 1990s, has gained momentum. Last week, Fort Worth school board members authorized administrators to negotiate an agreement with the city.
If an agreement is reached, the school board will be asked to vote on it before any actual construction begins.
“This is a collaboration between the city of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth ISD to help the city deal with traffic congestion,” said Pat Linares, interim superintendent. She said no formal meetings between the two entities had taken place.
University Drive and West Lancaster Avenue lead motorists to some of the hottest retail and restaurant destinations in west Fort Worth, including TCU and the West Seventh neighborhood. Other top draws in the area include the museum district, Casa Mañana theater and Fort Worth Botanic Garden.
But Farrington Field, a stadium that opened in 1939, holds roughly 18,500 people and still hosts many of the school district’s top sporting events, is a physical barrier to traffic in the area, officials said. The stadium has a large parking lot that is mostly unused, except on actual game days.
Precise details on what it might cost to extend Trail Drive — formerly Harley Avenue — aren’t yet available, Alanis said.
Also unclear: exactly what would happen to other area streets. A conceptual drawing of the proposed extension provided by city officials shows much of Crestline Road being closed if the Trail Drive extension is built and an entrance to Trinity Park and a connection to nearby Foch Street being reconfigured.
But city officials say those plans are still tentative.
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796