April 19, 2014

Fort Worth proposes transportation fixes

City leaders knew from the beginning that roads would need a lot of attention in new bond plan.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price calls the city’s $292 million, seven-part bond package in the May 10 election “the most publicly vetted bond proposal in the city’s history.”

Even without studying that long history, it’s safe she’s right or close to it. The City Council discussed the package in meeting after meeting, there were public presentations all over town, and people could comment or raise questions online, by mail or by telephone.

Many things became clear during all of that discussion. Probably the clearest was that there are many, many more things on the city’s wish list than what will be submitted to voters.

But the council limited the proposal to what could be financed without a tax increase, so $292 million in projects is all that will fit.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board has studied the list of projects, which is available on the city’s website at fortworthtexas.gov, and will present its views on each of the seven ballot propositions in editorials this week.

Proposition 1

First on the list is the proposal that from the beginning has received the most emphasis and includes the bulk of the bond money: $219.7 million for street and transportation improvements.

It’s the most prominent because during Fort Worth’s rapid growth, its neighborhood streets, major and minor thoroughfares, intersections, sidewalks and other transportation infrastructure probably have generated more complaints to City Hall than any other single topic.

The bond package attacks those problems head-on — and from most other directions, too. Council members have wrestled over dollars to make sure each district gets its share.

Of the $219.7 million in Proposition 1, some $148.4 million would be dedicated to specific street construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation projects.

That includes 16 projects to build or complete major links to multi-lane arterial roads. The list includes parts of Blue Mound Road, Marine Creek Parkway, Mark IV Parkway, McCart Avenue, Montgomery Street, Randol Mill Road, Risinger Road and Riverside Drive.

On the neighborhood level, perhaps more noticeable would be the part of the plan that aims to fix or replace deteriorating streets, along with curbs, gutters, sidewalks, driveway approaches, signalized intersections and utility lines as necessary. The list of individual projects covers more than four pages.

Proposition 1 also includes allocations of $10 million each for citywide improvements to bridges, sidewalks and traffic signals.

Another $9 million would be set aside for capacity and safety improvements to existing intersections.

There’s a $6.4 million line item for transportation grant matching funds to complete street, streetscape, bridge, intersection, sidewalk and other transportation-related development projects.

Pedestrian infrastructure improvements in urban villages, a major focus of the city’s plans to enhance neighborhood commercial areas, would draw $6 million.

There’s $5 million for railroad intersections and the same amount for street lights. Another $4.5 million would go to improvements around future TEX Rail stations.

Finally, there’s $2 million for public/private transportation partnerships and $1.26 million for bicycle infrastructure.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends voting for Proposition 1 in the Fort Worth bond election.

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