Southeast Denton, which has historically gotten the short end of many government services, can look forward to an overhaul of its roads within the next three years.
More than 70 city blocks across the area would be torn up and rebuilt with improved infrastructure underneath.
That means upgrades to not only the driving surface, but also water and wastewater main replacements.
Residents of the area got their first formal look at the work to come earlier this month when city staffers and Denton City Council member Vicki Byrd brought the proposal to the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center.
“We’re going to be inconvenienced like mad like we’ve been all over the city, anyway,” Byrd said of the roadwork. “People are complaining every day about these streets. So am I — I have to travel down them, as well.”
While the condition of public roads in general has a poor reputation in Denton, roads in Southeast Denton are notoriously neglected. Denton neglected to provide proper paved roads for the section of town — even though residents were city taxpayers — until the Denton Women’s Interracial Fellowship took up the cause in the mid-1960s.
Seth Garcia, a program manager with the city, told rec center audience members the city isn’t planning a Band-Aid solution for the neighborhood streets, but some residents were skeptical given the city’s past treatment of the area.
Much of the area will receive its road upgrades in two large phases over the next three years. That differs from the city’s previous more patchwork-style process, which would see individual roads being serviced one at a time instead of many road sections across a particular area.
“This is a new approach for us,” Rachel Wood, deputy director of capital projects for the city, said via phone this past week. “This is how we hope to deliver capital projects moving forward.”
The plan is that construction will come to a part of town at once, fix everything up within a couple of years and then leave for seven years or so in hopes of reducing construction fatigue among residents.
Garcia said construction will likely begin in Southeast Denton sometime in late April or early May next year. It would then finish up sometime in 2024.
Southeast Denton, as a geographic descriptor, is vaguely defined in and of itself, but the city’s work spans much of what would traditionally be considered to be Solomon Hill and the surrounding areas.
The first phase of construction would focus on sections of the following roadways: Allen, Cook, Hill Alley, Industrial, Jackson, Johnson, Martin, Mill, Morse, Robertson and Wye. The area encompasses Fred Moore High School, Mt. Pilgrim CME Church and Clara’s Kitchen.
The second phase would cover a much larger area roughly located north of East Daugherty Street, east of Carroll Boulevard, south of East Hickory Street and west of South Ruddell Street.
In total, the two phases are projected to cost $20.7 million. Woods said some of that money will come from the bond program passed by voters in 2019 and the rest will come from the city’s street funds.
“We’re not just talking [about] new asphalt over the top, we’re talking new subgrade beneath,” Garcia said. “That’s where you get the longevity of the streets. You can come in and skim off six inches and put down new surface, but you’re still going to get those potholes that’ll come through.”