UPDATE — The detour repairs will be delayed until Aug. 16 because of anticipated rain this weekend. However, city crews are still planning to open a lane of North Grand Avenue to traffic this weekend. City officials and the contractor met Thursday morning to discuss the weather and announced their decision just after 11 a.m.
The mess on North Main Street in Fort Worth will get a bit messier — but the result could be better access for roadside businesses that have suffered during a year-long road project.
A four-block section of North Main Street has been closed for a year, to make room for bridge construction as part of the Panther Island project. In that area, motorists have been detoured off Main Street onto Commerce Street for about four blocks, between Seventh and 11th streets (just north of LaGrave Field) — and the detour is expected to remain in place through fall 2020.
But that detour has been so well-worn the past year — not only by commuters trying to get between the Stockyards and downtown Fort Worth, but also large commercial trucks — that this weekend workers will have to close even more of Main Street to repair damaged pavement.
In other words, they will be creating a detour around a detour.
Sometime after rush hour on Friday evening, weather permitting, workers will expand the detour so that northbound Main Street traffic must exit at Fifth Street then take Commerce Street all the way to Northside Drive. Southbound traffic will enter Commerce Street at Northside Drive and return to Main Street at Fifth Street.
The new detour likely will be in place much of the weekend, but will be removed before Monday morning rush hour, city officials said. Drivers will find the old detour is still the same as they remember, but with better pavement, said Matt Oliver, Trinity River Vision Authority spokesman.
“The roadway surface has become rough at several locations along Seventh and North Main streets and 11th and North Main streets,” a city news release states. “Heavy truck traffic has contributed to the deterioration of the roadway surface. The contractor plans to remove the asphalt paving at the transition areas that move the traffic off of North Main Street on to Commerce Street and replace it with high-strength concrete. The concrete at the transition curves will greatly improve the life of the detour roadway pavement.”
Access to businesses
As an added benefit, many shop owners along Main Street and adjacent roads who say the work has cut their business by as much as 70 percent may find access to their storefronts somewhat improved.
In addition to the pavement improvements, city crews plan to do some re-striping and open up one southbound lane of traffic to North Grand Avenue, where many businesses have suffered.
“It’s very hard to get people here. It’s very hard to find this place,” Sasidharan Nair, owner of Maaco Auto Body Shop at 1025 N. Main St., told the Star-Telegram earlier this year.
The bridge is being built by the Texas Department of Transportation as part of the Panther Island project, which is being overseen by the Tarrant Regional Water District and Trinity River Vision Authority. The bridge is being built over dry land, and the plan is to eventually dig a channel and re-route the Trinity River, while also creating an 800-acre island prime for urban development.
Area businesses are hoping to hang on long enough to see the project through.
“It has died completely and it was real busy. No one can get to it,” said Cristina Salazar, co-owner with her husband, Ricardo, of Amigos Investments and Amigos Pottery at 1117 N Main St., founded in 1976 as Amigos Auto Sales. “I had said, OK, this is going to be a pretty good project and we’re for it, but I said we need access to our business.”
Councilman Carlos Flores, whose district includes the area, said he believes access to area businesses “will be significantly improved in the traffic flow reconfiguration plan.”
“I met with several of these business owners and discussed the issues,” he said.
The Panther Island project is a $1.1 billion effort that if successful could forever change the landscape of Fort Worth’s city center. The project involves re-channeling the Trinity River to improve flood control, while also creating an 800-acre island that could be developed with a mix of homes, job centers and attractions.
The project involves not only the city and the Trinity River Vision Authority, but also Tarrant County, the Texas Department of Transportation, North Central Texas Council of Governments and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The project includes construction of three unique V-shaped pier bridges at Henderson Street, North Main Street and White Settlement Road. The bridges will have 10-foot sidewalks, bicycle facilities and enhanced landscaping.
This report includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.