Fort Worth

Looking to Transit of the Future While Accommodating Drivers of Today in Fort Worth's W 7th Street Corridor

City leaders discussed public transportation options at a community meeting Monday

Lined with popular bars and restaurants, the West 7th Street corridor is one of the fastest growing areas in Fort Worth. Now, with more development ahead, business owners and the city are trying to figure out what the future should look like.

After a recent bond election, Fort Worth has $8 million to spend to rebuild the roadway itself. Now they city is faced with a question: how to fulfill their long-term goal of growing public transit without taking away from today's customer, who's most likely driving a car.

In the Lone Star State, cars are king and that means local businesses like Cork and Pig Tavern need all the parking they can get.

"They do kind of stalk these spots out front, trying to see if they can get something," said Hayes Clement, assistant manager at Cork and Pig Tavern.

But Fort Worth is in transition. As it grows, city leaders are looking to add more options for public transportation.

"What I think is lacking when you look at the city of Fort Worth is things like biking lanes, bus lanes that would encourage mass transportation," said Cork and Pig customer Chris Clark.

One early proposal would remove 52 on-street parking spaces on West 7th Street, to make way for a shared bus and bike lane.

"The transition is really challenging because the fact of the matter is, where I live, I really wouldn't be getting on a bike and coming down here, so for me the only way I'm coming is if I'm in a car," customer Pete Blaisdell said.

Emil Bragdon heard the same from his customers at Reservoir and the Whiskey Garden.

"I haven't seen a lot of bus traffic, I haven't seen people waiting in line to get on the bus, it just doesn't happen," Bragdon said. "The last thing we need to do is reduce the number of spaces that people are allowed to park."

Many business owners and neighbors voiced the same ideas at a public meeting Monday night. The city is now leaning toward preserving some on-street parking while putting in "jump lanes" at traffic lights that would give buses a head start to stay on schedule.

"Transit has not been prioritized in any of our corridors in Fort Worth up until this point," said Fort Worth City Councilwoman Ann Zadeh. "To have it be a system that is used by people who have many choices, who own cars, it has to be prioritized."

Business owners also talked a lot Monday night about wanting more focus on pedestrians. The city is including plans for wider sidewalks, better lighting and crosswalks and landscaping in the median.

There will be two more public meetings August 6 and 16 before any final decisions.

The West 7th Restaurant and Bar Association has also reached a deal with Fort Worth ISD to lease a parking lot from nearby Farrington Field. It will only be open Thursday through Saturday nights after 10:00 pm, when demand is at its highest.

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