The City of Arlington broke ground Thursday on a $20 million makeover for Abram Street following more than a decade of planning.
Abram Street has been the gateway into Arlington for as long as the city has been around – but drivers who use it say they literally feel it's past its prime.
"From Collins to 360, you need to hold on," said Sue Phillips, a longtime resident of East Arlington. "It gets pretty bumpy."
Phillips is the president of a community group called East Arlington Renewal. For years, she's pushed city leaders to make improvements to Abram.
"We need some redevelopment along this street," said Phillips. "Well, you can't do that until you get your shoes fixed."
That's why she had a big smile on her face Thursday morning, when she joined other city officials in moving the first dirt on a $20 million makeover for the road.
"I always say, if you don't die and you don't give up, you'll see great things happen," said Phillips. "We're seeing great things happen."
The project will be completed in phases. Construction on the first phase, which stretches from Great Southwest Parkway to Stadium Drive, will begin in August.
That work will include paving, drainage, lighting and sidewalk improvements. New lanes are also being added to Abram east of 360.
"We just think this will be more than a facelift," said Arlington City Council Member Lana Wolff. "It will be a rebirth and a new energy to this East Arlington area."
City leaders said drivers can expect delays and some traffic headaches while construction is taking place, but Phillips said it's a small price to pay for the end result.
"It's gonna be worth it to everybody," said Phillips.
Work on phase one is expected to be complete by June 2016. The remaining phases will focus on the areas between Stadium Drive and Cooper Street.