Upgrades could range from wider sidewalks to gateway arches
City Councilwoman Angela Hunt has proposed adding $1.1 million to the city’s November bond package for improvements to Cedar Springs Road.
“There’s a real need to make the area safer and more inviting for pedestrians,” Hunt said.
Even with recent improvements to the street, she said, pedestrians are taking their lives into their hands — or feet, if you will — when they cross the street.
The discussion with area merchants began after four accidents involving pedestrians, including two fatalities, occurred within two months last year. Since then, new crosswalks and warning lights have been installed. A traffic light at Knight Street and Cedar Springs Road was scheduled to be installed in June but that has been delayed until at least September.
Hunt said her proposal is similar to the one she added to the 2006 bond program for improvements along Lower Greenville Avenue soon after she came into office. She said at the time the money was added, merchant and neighborhood groups knew that something was needed but no specific plan had been drawn.
“We want the community and business owners to embrace whatever solution we come up with,” she said. “We need everyone behind it.”
She said the variety of improvements may include wider sidewalks, landscaping that has a calming effect on traffic and benches to make the street more pedestrian friendly.
“When we put the money in the ’06 bond package, we didn’t know exactly where the money would go,” she said. “But we knew we needed to make the area safer.”
Lighting on side streets has been a priority, but she said the funds she’s requesting would only be for improvements to Cedar Springs Road between Oak Lawn and Wycliff avenues. She said she’ll continue working with Oncor to increase lighting on cross streets to improve safety for those who park and live behind the entertainment district.
“The Cedar Springs corridor is such an important part of our city,” she said. “This [the bond money] is a smart investment.”
Cedar Springs Merchants Association President Scott Whittall said his group needs to meet with Hunt and Councilwoman Pauline Medrano to discuss the possibilities. Cedar Springs Road divides the two council districts, but Hunt said the money would come from her district’s bond allocation.
Whittall said that he would like to see arches announcing the entertainment district and new signage. He said cobblestoning has worked well in Bishop Arts District and seating adds to a relaxed ambiance.
His organization has been in touch with Lower Greenville merchants who claim that blocked entrances and parking issues during construction put several merchants out of business.
“That’s a huge misstep we’ll avoid,” he said.
If any street parking is taken, Whittall wants that to be replaced with alternative off-street parking, and he wants to discuss with councilmembers the possibility of using some of the bond money to acquire land for parking.
Meanwhile, some improvements on the street have already been funded for work scheduled to begin in June. In addition to the traffic signal at Knight Street, the turning island at the corner of Cedar Springs and Douglas Avenue was to be removed. That would force traffic making a full right turn onto Douglas to make a stop at the light or slow to make a sharp right turn.
However, according to Daniel Rydberg of the city’s Department of Street Services, planners are still trying to decide on a final design for the intersection.
Some merchants would rather see a center island installed between Knight Street and Wycliff Avenue that would force all traffic from ilume and Knight Street to turn right, according to Whittall. Others objected to an island that would disrupt the annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade from proceeding down the middle of the street.
“There are a number of engineering challenges,” Rydberg said, referring to the jog at the intersection as well as ilume’s driveway.
Right-turn-only may be part of the solution. Rydberg blamed the delay on his office being short-staffed.
Another factor is anticipated new construction on the northeast corner of Cedar Springs and Douglas with the announcement that Crosland Group has secured financing to build ilume Park.
Rydberg also said that the traffic signal system at that corner is more than 30 years old. A change to any component would require new signals for the entire intersection.
Oak Lawn residents and merchants attended an Oak Lawn Stakeholders Crime Watch meeting on Wednesday, June 20, to discuss with city planners whether the new lights, signs and crosswalks along the street have been effective. Most attending from the area at the meeting agreed that they have not.
Some wanted speed bumps across Cedar Springs, which wouldn’t be legal to install on a main street. Others suggested having the new lights flash only only when someone was in the crosswalk.
Rydberg noted that since the street improvements, no pedestrian accidents have been reported. He said that was his department’s goal.
A meeting to discuss Hunt’s portion of the city bond program is set for 6:30 p.m. at Lee Park Arlington Hall on June 28.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 22, 2012.