Dallas gives thumbs up to bike lanes on a major east-west street
A key east-west thoroughfare in Dallas got the green light for new bike lanes and wider sidewalks.
The road in question has three names depending on where it's located: Abrams Road, Columbia Avenue, and Main Street.
The Dallas City Council voted at its January 23 meeting to allow the Public Works department to proceed with a street reconstruction program that was approved in a 2017 bond. It will shrink the roadway from six lanes to four lanes, with the addition of two new bicycle lanes and a widening of the sidewalks.
The reconstructed portion will span from Canton Street near Deep Ellum to Richmond Avenue near Lakewood. Bike lanes will be included on Columbia Avenue and Abrams Road, but not on the Main Street portion.
Construction is expected to begin in July 2019 and last until June 2020, according to the city’s bond program website.
The $8 million project is funded by the 2017 bond program for streets. In November 2017, voters approved 10 bond propositions, including more than $500 million for street improvements.
City council members hailed the street redesign as a win for residents who live in the many neighborhoods connecting to the street.
"This is neighborhood driven [for] people who live in the neighborhood," said Adam Medrano, who represents Deep Ellum and East Dallas. "Hundreds of people attended those meetings."
Council member Phillip Kingston, who represents downtown, East Dallas, and Uptown, said that it's part of a migration in the city towards greater walkability.
"We always need to be mindful of always putting the neighborhood before the needs of the people traveling through it at high speeds," he said. "That's what the public meetings have clearly shown is the preference of the neighborhood."
The roadway has seen many auto accidents, particularly on Abrams Road where it swells to six lanes through Junius Heights Historic District.
There are also three Dallas ISD schools in the area: Woodrow Wilson High School, J.L. Long Middle School, and Lipscomb Elementary.
Wednesday's approval falls in line with the city's Complete Streets design plan and master bike plan. The vote also signals a greater sensitivity on the council for non-auto use.
Public meetings begin next week to consider a similar slimming down on Northwest Highway, said Jennifer Staubach Gates, who represents the area.
"I'm very supportive of making these streets contact sensitive," she said. "We're looking at doing this at Northwest Highway [and] Lovers Lane; we have talked about making them friendlier for bikes and pedestrians."
The Main/Columbia/Abrams street redo is the largest bike-friendly project upcoming in East Dallas. In 2018, the city narrowed Matilda Street from four lanes to two, with bike lanes and a center turning lane.
The city is also considering fixes to Richmond Avenue to decrease traffic flow, including reducing turn lanes onto the street and installing bike lanes connecting Greenville Avenue to White Rock Lake.
A master bicycle plan dubbed "The Loop" calls for a new trail from White Rock Lake running south to the Trinity Forest. Called the Trinity Forest Spine Trail, it will run 8.7 miles to connect to Trinity Forest Trail. It is the longest project for The Loop Circuit Trail Conservancy, a nonprofit group spearheading the trail network circling the city.