A street like no other

Here’s some really good news about the downtown-transformative Abram Street project: After nearly two years of construction, it’s fast approaching completion, and when all the final landscaping and sweeping up is done, we will discover a street like none other anywhere in the city.

A hundred years ago, the Abram corridor through the city was the route of the Interurban rail system connecting Fort Worth and Dallas in the region’s first public transportation facility.

Today it’s becoming the centerpiece of a resurgent downtown that will ensure the long-hoped-for comeback for the heart of the city.

When voters authorized the $26 million project that runs from the intersection with Cooper Street on the border of the University of Texas at Arlington campus to Collins Street, the main corridor to the Entertainment District, few likely realized the innovation that would emerge.

Since the beginning of construction, most of us have been variously inconvenienced when navigating to a downtown destination and/or businesses along the route that have worked hard to remain viable while they await its completion.

All the while, the city has devoted itself to ensuring access to every address by phasing the project so that almost none of the street has actually been completely shut down, in spite of the challenge to work around it all.

The effort began with a series of public meetings starting in 2014 before construction began in the Spring of 2018.

With coordination between the City and the Downtown Management Corporation, efforts have been successful in accommodating those who visit, live, work and study in the area.

Multiple websites, social media and weekly e-newsletters have kept everyone informed as to the progress of the project and providing alternative access points, parking spaces and optimal routes to avoid the ongoing construction work.

The success of those efforts can be found in the opening of new businesses, restaurants, nighttime gathering and entertainment destinations and more that have emerged even in the midst of all the road work.

Two major residential and mixed-use developments with Abram Street address are bringing more people who are today living downtown, with more on their way as the latest high-rise project at the intersection of Mesquite Street takes shape.

Together with student housing on the UT Arlington campus and private development in the surrounding neighborhoods, the critical mass of people will soon be able to discover the pedestrian-friendly environs of the completed Abram Street experience.

In addition to the improvements to stormwater infrastructure and roadway paving at the intersection of Abram and Cooper Streets, here’s what the City has said will unfold during the next 90 days as final completion is achieved:

  • Relocation and installation of more than 77,000 linear feet of conduit/cables for electricity, communication, fiber optic, traffic signals and irrigation lines.
  • Installation of 57 Americans with Disabilities Act compliant sidewalk ramps.
  • Installation of approximately 33,000 square yards of concrete for roadway, median and sidewalk paving.
  • Installation of 4,000 linear feet of reinforced concrete pipes for stormwater system improvements.
  • Installation of 6,640 linear feet of water lines and 2,300 linear feet of sanitary sewer lines.
  • Installation of 2,200 square yards of decorative brick pavers in the roadway and sidewalks.

The final months of construction also include focusing on completion of the reconstruction of the City Hall South Plaza across the street from the Levitt Pavilion. That includes completion of pedestrian walkway enhancements, lighting and landscaping improvements along the entire project corridor.

The ribbon cutting and dedication that will mark the opening of the “new” Abram Street through downtown will be a day of celebration in a city that is known for achievements in building the quality of life for all its residents.