If there is a Murphy’s Law for repair work, the West Hickory Street reconstruction has run up against it, for sure.
Rebuilding West Hickory Street, including all the utilities underneath, from Bonnie Brae Street to Carroll Boulevard was supposed to be done this year, but it won’t be. It won’t be done in 2020 either. The new finish date for the final leg, from Welch Street to Carroll Boulevard, moved to early 2021.
Some of the holdup had nothing to do with the construction work at all, but issues that the work uncovered. And the biggest problem — parking and bike lanes between Avenue B and Welch Street — brought the $4.4 million project to a screeching halt earlier this year.
But hitting the giant pause button also gave the city a chance to take that last street segment back to the drawing board to build better — and better lit — sidewalks.
According to Giancarlo G. Patiño, one of the consulting engineers at Freese & Nichols redesigning the street, the new plans include six pedestrian light fixtures on the north side. The north sidewalk will also be widened to 5 feet.
The southern sidewalk is still being designed, but should be widened to between 4 and 5 feet, he said.
Dan Krutka has lobbied for more pedestrian lighting as a member of the city’s Traffic Safety Commission. Krutka, a University of North Texas professor, said he likes what’s coming to Hickory Street, but he’s also concerned that there’s no temporary fix.
“There are spots that are so dark that you can’t see in front of you,” said Krutka, who commutes by bicycle along Hickory. “We have to fix things in the present, too.”
Once all the design work is redone, the city will rebid the project, according to a recent memo to the City Council. The price tag is expected to climb to between $5.7 million and $6.3 million, according to Ryan Adams, city spokesman.
Meanwhile, crews are back to work finishing the stretch between Avenue B and Welch Street.
A dedicated bike lane that starts at Bonnie Brae will continue on the south side of the street. That means when the street fully reopens, motorists won’t be able to park on Hickory under the trees next to the UNT campus anymore.
However, the City Council approved a plan that keeps the parking spaces on the north side of the street and adds parking and loading zones around the corner, on Avenue A and Mulberry Street.
The new configuration closes Avenue A to traffic from Hickory Street. Motorists can access Mulberry and Avenue A from Welch Street instead.
Construction between Avenue B and Welch is expected to wrap up by December.
The final stretch of the West Hickory Street reconstruction from Welch to Carroll is expected to begin in February and take about 12 months to complete.