The good news is that the City is improving local roads. The bad news? Construction is a traffic nightmare. Complaining about the improvements is a neighborhood pastime. Maybe you considered Abrams’ upgrades to be a nightmare or wonder what’s up with the mess at Live Oak and Skillman. We spoke with City of Dallas’ Director of Public Works Robert Perez, City Councilman Philip Kingston and City Councilman Mark Clayton about recently completed and upcoming road improvement projects across East Dallas.  

1) Lakeland 

Lakeland reopened in December, and the entirety of the project is complete this month. The project took longer than expected because of issues with steel-encased pipes that protect utility lines, Clayton says.  

2) Skillman Street

If you live in Lakewood Heights, navigating through a corn maze was easier than traversing your own neighborhood in July. The concurrent road improvements on Skillman and Abrams created a hassle for neighbors headed toward Mockingbird Lane. 

Kingston has little sympathy for neighbors who griped about its inconvenient timing. “Those were two projects that we had been waiting on for years,” he says.

When the City plans road improvement projects, staff members usually avoid having adjacent arteries simultaneously under construction, Perez says. The projects coincided because Abrams maintained two-way traffic, and Skillman was a short-lived resurfacing project, not a complete overhaul of the road. “We didn’t anticipate overlap in the projects for extended periods of time,” Perez says.

Skillman Street smoothed out by September, but Abrams — well, more on that later.

3) Ross at Greenville

Thanks to former City Council member Angela Hunt, $850,000 in unassigned funds were left in the City of Dallas’ budget for District 14. The City spent $600,000 of that amount on new traffic signals, crosswalks and lane configurations at the intersection. Most of the improvements are complete, but Kingston is perplexed as to why it took so long to add new traffic signals. 

4) Live Oak at Skillman

To be blunt, “This is not a contractor we should ever use again,” Kingston says. We’ve contacted the City’s Water Utilities Department for a timetable on the project
but did not hear back by press time. Check our site for updates.

5) Abrams

Abrams was under construction for just about a year, which felt like an infinity to neighbors. So why did Skillman Street repairs only take a few months and Abrams Road feel like a never-ending nightmare?  Perez describes Abrams Road as a “mini reconstruction project” because the water and wastewater lines beneath the road also needed to be replaced. Once concrete work was complete, the contractor left temporary asphalt on the road while Dallas Water finished utility line work. One of the lines was deeper in the ground than expected, which made improvements more challenging. “That’s what extended it,” Perez says. “It wasn’t just the street work. It also was the utilities that were done.”

Perez also points to 23 days last February that were too rainy or cold for construction work as a source of delay. In any case, the project is complete, and we can apologize to our tires for the abuse they’ve undergone since November 2017. 

6) Henderson and Fitzhugh

Although separate projects, Henderson and Fitzhugh are both problematic in their own right. “They’re clusters,” Kingston says. “Reconstruction should start before the end of the year. Fitzhugh — I don’t know what the holdup is. I think they’re waiting for building construction before they go back in. I think readers should know help is coming soon.”

COMMON CONSTRUCTION CONUNDRUMS

How does the City of Dallas choose which streets to repair?

Streets in the city are categorized based on their “Pavement Condition Index.” Roads are rated from 0, being the worst, to 100, being new. Streets that are rated poorly are reserved for bond projects, and the City uses maintenance funds to improve roads in better condition.  “We’ll basically schedule or provide maintenance on available funding,” Perez says.

Why doesn’t the City do road construction at night? 

“Abrams is a perfect example,” Perez says. “There are residences on either side of the street. If you do the work at night, those residents are affected. It’s a balance. I would love to do a lot of work at night, but we have to take into consideration residences and local businesses.”

Why are streets closed when no repairs are happening?

One of the most common complaints the City receives is, “The street is closed for no reason,” Perez says. After pouring concrete, it has to cure anywhere from five to seven days. “If you’re going to put asphalt or traffic on a street, it needs to be fully cured before you do that, otherwise, it gets damaged.” 

What’s next?

Here are a few of the road construction projects in Districts 9 and 14 that are slated to occur between Jan. 1 and March 31. For a complete list, visit lakewood.advocatemag.com.

• Brendenwood Drive from Gaston to Avalon

• Highland Road from Ferguson to north of Primrose

• St. Francis Avenue from San Leandro to Barbaree

• Alderson from Monticello to Mercedes and Vickery to Vanderbilt

• Belmont from Summit to Greenville

• Greenville from Goliad to A663 and SMU to Dyer

• Junius from Munger to Dumas

• Pearson from Country Club Circle to Gaston

For a complete list of upcoming projects in 2019, visit 

dallascityhall.com/departments/public-works.


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