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Forest Park Boulevard road diet on hold; but headaches continue
By A. Lee Graham
Motorists can expect at least one more Forest Park Boulevard closure at the West Seventh Street Bridge as work continues on the landmark.
Meanwhile, the reduction of Forest Park to three lanes south of Interstate 30 has been put on hold to get further public input.
“We’re doing a little more community outreach,” said Doug Wiersig, the city’s transportation and public works director.
But the construction closures will commence nearer downtown at the Seventh Street bridge and overpass.
From Monday April 29 to Thursday May 2, motorists traveling north on Forest Park will be directed to take 10th Street to Penn Street before taking Fifth Street back to Forest Park. It’s the same detour that drivers took from March 18 through March 27 as Texas Department of Transportation crews continued bridge work.
“We are temporarily closing those lanes as needed to move equipment and set some pre-cast beams,” said George Behmanesh, assistant director with the city’s transportation and public works department.
The bridge is expected to close for 150 days sometime after May 5 and reopen before Thanksgiving.
“We have allowed the contractor 150 days for total closure,” Behmanesh said. For every day project contractor Sundt Construction Inc. beats that schedule, the company gets a $33,000 bonus as incentive.
“We realize how important this bridge is for the city,” Behmanesh said.
Equally important to Forest Park motorists farther south is the stretch between Park Hill Drive and Rosedale Street.
What city traffic engineers call a “road diet” was scheduled to re-stripe the roadway in mid-April, but work has been postponed.
“We’re doing a little more community outreach,” said Doug Wiersig, the city’s transportation and public works director.
“We’re in the process of making sure we’ve touched base with HOAs [homeowners associations] and other community representatives out there to educate them on what will occur,” Wiersig said.
Plans call for replacing the current four-lane, undivided roadway with a three-lane configuration: one lane in each direction, north and south, a center turn lane and room for bicycle lanes. The term “road diet” denotes a reduction in lanes.
Prompting the road plan were safety concerns spurred by several Forest Park traffic accidents in recent years. For years, the “S” curve between Edwin Street and Harrison Avenue has encouraged some motorists to exceed the 35 mph speed limit and sometimes lose control and crash into fences in the Mistletoe Heights neighborhood.
Although project expenses totaled $70,000 – exceeding the $50,000 minimum at which capital expenditures require City Council approval – the project required no council approval because its expenses were authorized in the latest annual city budget.

lgraham@bizpress.net

 

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