University Drive: The nightmare before Christmas for holiday shoppers

dfwnewsa | December 19, 2023 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

University Drive: The nightmare before Christmas for holiday shoppers

The intersection of University Drive and Old University Drive sees cars backed up at this traffic signal all hours of the day, as the two streets undergo a $13 million upgrade. (Matthew Sgroi | Fort Worth Report).
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Fort Worth’s University Park Village and WestBend shopping centers are packed with shoppers every December.

Lines can get so long at University Park Village’s Starbucks that it stretches out the door. The narrower lanes of WestBend’s parking lot are busy with foot traffic to and from Tyler’s and Market by Macy’s, all with shoppers trying to park their cars.

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This shopping season traffic has been worse, according to Ruby VanCleve, a Williams Sonoma employee. Since February 2023, construction crews nearly equal the amount of shoppers on University Drive. The street is undergoing an upgrade to beautify and modernize one of the city’s many busy throughways.

“Oh, it’s been so frustrating,” VanCleve said. “Everyone here has complained about it”

As employees and shoppers adjust, the corridor will become a more vibrant and accessible part of the city, said Raul Lopez, city project manager. 

The city was inspired to take up the project after Community Design Fort Worth created a plan to enhance the corridor used by millions of residents each year. 

“We want to make this the unofficial entrance to the city’s Cultural District and TCU,” Lopez said. 

The $13.43 million project, a part of the nearly $400 million 2018 bond for streets and mobility improvements, aims to upgrade University Drive into a six-lane road with a raised median, improved crosswalks and enhanced street lighting. Old University Drive will be updated, too.

The construction, stretching from West Rosedale Street to the University Drive bridge over Trinity River, focuses on not just expanding the road but also on enhancing pedestrian and cyclist safety, Lopez said.

“Making it safer for people shopping, but then also people passing through to get to the Cultural District or passing through from Trinity Park is a big part of it,” Lopez said. 

This includes the already completed installation of a new traffic signal at Collinsworth Street, and adding bike lanes and parking on Old University Drive.

“I mean, when it’s all said and done it will be a nicer place to work for sure,” VanCleve said. “It’ll definitely look prettier than it does now.”

What kind of improvements are coming to University Drive?

Phase 1: (Cost = $5.73 million)

Construct curbed median

Install traffic signal at Collinsworth 

Enhance cross walks

Improve street lighting

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Improve bus stops

Add parking and bike lanes on Old University

Major attraction wayfinding signage

Phase 2: (Cost = $7.7 million)

A median to improve safety

Improved pedestrian and bicycle lanes along with transit stops

Streetlights under the bridges near Interstate 30

Crosswalk improvements at Trail Drive

Landscaping and directional signage

Lopez emphasized that the project aligns with the city’s efforts to make Fort Worth a more connected, pedestrian-friendly city.

“Over the last few years, there’s been an increase in accidents, so this project is important for safety,” Lopez said. 

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Lopez is optimistic about the project’s completion in spring 2025, as the project’s first phase is on track to finish by March 2024. 

Yet for now, some University Park Village and WestBend shoppers see construction efforts as a fruitless, expensive headache.

“There’s always gotta be something, right?” Fort Worth resident and TCU alum David Rotman said. 

Rotman and his family lived on nearby Stadium Drive for 17 years. They moved close to Aledo and are glad to be done avoiding construction, which he said hasn’t slowed down since his time on campus in the 1990s.

“This was always needing to be fixed, but it was never a good time,” Rotman said. “With everything that’s going on around here, will two extra lanes be enough?

Matthew Sgroi is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at matthew.sgroi@fortworthreport.org. 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.

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