East Lancaster Avenue could benefit from a $182 million boost to revitalize the former economic corridor, improving accessibility and mobility.
Michael Morris, director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, anticipates the projects will be fully funded by the end of the summer. Morris announced the funding June 2 at an East Fort Worth Business Association luncheon.
For Morris, the year of talking about what could be done on East Lancaster Avenue is over. Now, he said, “this is the year of doing.”
“This is Lancaster’s time,” Morris said. “Lancaster needs attention about ‘what should Lancaster be today,’ compared to what it was or what it had to be.”
Using new federal and state funds, East Lancaster would have access to high-speed internet and better pedestrian and bike lanes. The multimillion dollar initiative is designed to address the area’s safety, economic, environmental and equity.
Beyond the additional technology and lane upgrades, the project proposal also will address stormwater usage and flood mitigation.
East Fort Worth Business Association Director Don Boren and his wife Wanda have long been involved in the revitalization of East Lancaster Avenue. This new funding, in conjunction with the I-30 proposal, will enhance connectivity in the area and make Lancaster more of a residential road rather than a highway, he said.
“Instead of 10% of the traffic being destination traffic on Lancaster, we need to kick that up to 80%, for example,” Boren said.
Boren also praised the plan to add broadband to improve the thoroughfare.
“It makes absolute sense, with electronic control of lights, with the electronic control of the emergency vehicles, and using the internet connectivity of the boulevard to assist the connectivity in the community. It’s something that I think is relevant in today’s world,” he said.
During the next few months, public meetings and town halls will be conducted in the community to determine how the money should be used.
“What do we do in the next three to six months to get all the parts of the community on board with a common vision and go totally rebuild Lancaster?” Morris said. “I don’t want to dictate to the community what it should look like. Our success is having a bottom up (approach). Have the community decide what it is.”
Reconstruction of East Lancaster Avenue — which stretches from I-35W to Green Oaks Boulevard and the eastern city limits — will be funded through several partners. This includes the federal program known as Infrastructure For Rebuilding America grant. The Council of Governments has requested $100 million from that program.
The city of Fort Worth has already set aside $10 million from its 2022 bond toward East Lancaster Avenue with the potential for an additional $6.43 million in the future. The Texas Department of Transportation is allocating $30 million and the Regional Transportation Council is allocating $40 million. Another $2 million is expected from the private sector.
Tarrant County is expected to reach 3 million people and an employment workforce of 2 million by 2045, according to the Council of Governments.
Moving forward, TxDOT will be working to secure an engineering and environmental firm while the city of Fort Worth continues the public involvement process. The Council of Governments and the Regional Transportation Council will continue to obtain funding, and Trinity Metro will be exploring transit technology advances.
Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You may contact her at email@example.com or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.