Columbia Avenue in Old East Dallas is shrinking from six lanes to four as City of Dallas officials hope to slow traffic and create a safer environment for pedestrians.

Design plans should be finalized by the end of the year, and construction should start in July 2020, according to project documents from the City of Dallas. The project is expected take 15 months with a completion date set for summer 2021.

Construction comes years after neighbors first complained that the avenue’s six lane encouraged speeding on the thoroughfare that connects East Dallas with Deep Ellum. With uneven sidewalks overgrown with weeds, walking the avenue feels unsafe, and the absence of bike lanes means cyclists must share the road with drivers.

The road was widened in the 1970s to handle around 40,000 each day. However, recent traffic estimates from the North Central Texas Council of Governments show only 14,000 to 19,000 cars use the road daily.

In 2017, neighbors started a petition to shrink Columbia Avenue, which kicked off years of community input meetings with residents and stakeholders.

“The people on either side of this road were once close neighbors but can no longer reach the friends, services or parks on the other side without significant difficulty,” wrote Nathaniel Barrett, the resident who started the petition. “The harmful effects of this dangerous and neighborhood unfriendly road are evident in the number of injuries and lackluster growth along this corridor.”

About $4.25 million from the last bond package is allocated to shrink Columbia Avenue, as well as portions of Abrams Road, Main Street and Commerce Street. The Abrams project has $3.75 million bond dollars, and the Commerce project will cost $9.7 million, D Magazine reported.

Plans include improved sidewalks, dedicated bicycle lanes, on-street parking, bus stop improvements and landscaping. The hope is that improvements will lead to more retail and restaurants along the road.


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