The city of Fort Worth is set to receive over $4 million in federal funding from the bipartisan infrastructure bill to support three transportation projects, including a focus on improved roads near schools.
The funding, distributed through the North Central Texas Council of Governments, will address two safe routes to school projects near A.V. Cato Elementary School and A.M. Pate Elementary School. The third project is improvements to bike lanes on Oakland Boulevard and Miller Avenue, on the east side of town.
For parents like Vanessa Avila, a 38-year old mother of three — one of which walks to A.V. Cato Elementary — additional sidewalks near and around the school will be beneficial for the neighborhood kids who chose to walk to school.
“On this side, we do have sidewalks but sometimes whenever he walks to my mom’s house – she lives on the next corner — on that side, there’s no sidewalk when he’s walking down that street,” she said. “They have to stay on the street when they’re walking because they don’t want to walk over the people’s yards and stuff.”
Funds will be awarded on Dec. 8. The city of Fort Worth will have to provide a 20% local match to these federal funds.
The funds were awarded to projects that focused on improving pedestrian and biking safety, said Kevin Kokes, the program manager overseeing the active transportation project at the Council of Governments.
“There’s a focus on safety, providing access for people from where they live to jobs and schools and their daily destinations,” Kokes said. “But that’s essentially the priority, to help advance people’s ability to use (sidewalks and bicycles) as a means of transportation safely.”
The selected projects are considered time-sensitive and are expected to be completed by 2026, according to the Council of Governments.
Mary Elliott, transportation manager for the city of Fort Worth’s transportation and public works department, said the submitted projects were either part of the city’s active transportation plan or high injury network.
“All three had incidents of either pedestrian or bike or vehicular accidents or injuries,” Elliott said. “We have a lot of projects identified. So we try to make sure that there’s overlap between the projects that we have identified as our priority in our plans and then also projects that will score high according to the grant criteria.”
The two projects near A.V. Cato and A.M. Pate Elementary Schools will focus on improving and adding signage, bike lanes and sidewalks where necessary for students to either walk or bike to school.
The project on Oakland and Miller avenues will look to add fully protected bike lanes, improved ramps, and bike signals in a busy corridor that connects residential, recreational and commercial developments as well as other regional corridors, such as I-30, Rosedale, East Lancaster and East Berry streets.
“We’re doing quite a bit, and we’re really very excited about it. It’s wonderful that we were able to get three projects,” Elliott said. “A lot of cities only got one project, so, yeah, we’re excited about that.”
Another four projects were submitted for funds as well but were not recommended by the Council of Governments. But those projects won’t go away, Elliott said.
“We continuously evaluate potential projects and try to integrate them into our active transportation plan if they’re not already there. And then as different opportunities arise, either grant opportunities, future bond programs or fiscal year budgets, we try to find ways to integrate them into some other future funding source so it doesn’t just go away,” she said.
Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @ssadek19. 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.