Significant changes are headed to the popular West 7th Street corridor soon in an effort to tackle some looming and growing crowd and parking issues.
Mayor Betsy Price said Thursday that 10 interior streets in the 12-block area bounded by West Seventh and Foch streets and Lancaster and University avenues will permanently become one-way. Only Crockett and Currie streets will remain two-way. West Seventh Street will also remain two-way.
City crews will begin as early as Monday marking streets and installing street signs. Streets will be resurfaced, she said.
Since the growth of bars and restaurants in the corridor, the city and police have fielded numerous complaints about noise, drinking, traffic hazards and a lack of parking. At times, it's been difficult for emergency vehicles to maneuver through the crowded streets.
Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald is increasing the number of off-duty police officers, particularly from midnight to 2:30 a.m. Wednesday through Monday during the summer months. Police are also planning to open a storefront in Montgomery Plaza in June.
Price said conditions won't improve unless changes are made.
"I know that change usually involves some adjustment and some temporary inconvenience," she said. "Any effective solutions will require some degree of compromise, some degree of experimentation and even some degree of risk."
In addition, the City Council is expected to approve spending $250,000 at its May 15 meeting to install parking meters along many of the streets. And it won't be cheap in the evenings. Rates of $1 per hour will be charged from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when it jumps to $2.50 an hour until 10 p.m. seven days a week.
"We need to manage our on-street parking spaces more effectively so that they turn over more frequently," she said in a statement.
Parking will still be available at Farrington Field. The Fort Worth Independent School District and the West 7th Restaurant and Bar Association have negotiated a one-year renewable lease for 400 parking spaces in the northeast section of the nearby Farrington Field parking lot. That will cost the association $7,076 a month, the city said. The lease runs through August 2019.
Pedestrians can also expect major sidewalk improvements. Right away, $1 million will be spent from remaining urban village funds and the 2014 bond program to fill in gaps where sidewalks stop and start, to build new sidewalks where there are none and to repair those in poor condition, Price said.
Sidewalk work should begin in September and be completed by March, she said.
Price and other city leaders are suggesting the West 7th business owners and residents create a public improvement district, which would require an agreement from the majority of the property and business owners. A PID is an added assessment on the property tax.
Downtown and other areas of Fort Worth have PIDs. Those, Price said, "could serve as models for this area."
About $8 million is designated in the 2018 bond program for street improvements as part of the city's "complete streets" program, and the West 7th corridor will share in that. The bond election is May 5.