Dallas is gearing up to compete for federal infrastructure money approved by Congress last year.
“This is a huge $1.2 trillion investment into the core infrastructure needs of the nation. We are talking about big transformational projects here. It is five years of funding for new and existing grant programs,” Dallas Funds Development Manager Dina Colarossi said.
Around $35 billion is expected to go to the State of Texas to be doled out for large projects that could include the replacement of I-345 between Downtown and Deep Ellum and the I-30 Canyon reconstruction.
Dallas City Council Committees Tuesday received a briefing on 58 possible projects that could be eligible to compete separately against other cities for other portions of federal infrastructure money.
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Here are details of Tuesday's briefing and a list of the projects.
“Equity is one of the identified priorities of the Biden Administration, so we will definitely be taking that into consideration,” Colarossi said. “There is priority given to areas of persistent poverty. There is priority to disadvantaged communities.”
Dallas has billions of dollars of unfunded needs, $2 billion for sidewalk problems alone.
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Dallas Council members are counting on the federal money for a major upgrade in neglected areas.
“Our folks have been working on this for months, months and months if not years beforehand for an opportunity like this to happen. And it’s here. So thank you for being prepared and ready and having this list ready to go,” Councilman Omar Narvaez said.
The projects include a $ 6.6 million improvement to Grand Avenue in East Dallas.
It is an old street that was home to a Ford Motor Company factory from 1925 to 1970. Grand Avenue has narrow commercial corridors.
“The lighting is poor at night and it's kind of congested,” said resident Ward Lee. “The infrastructure is failing right here.”
The Grand Avenue project would boost street safety and improve access to parks.
Other possible projects on the list include sidewalks, replacing bridges recently declared deficient, a second entrance to Dallas Love Field, dredging White Rock Lake, addressing dangerous intersections in a zero fatality plan, expanding Klyde Warren Park downtown and completing a deck park under construction over I-35E near the Dallas Zoo.
A suggestion of city completion of the Oak Cliff Street Car extension to the McKinney Avenue Trolley Uptown received push back from City Council Member Gay Donnell Willis Tuesday. She said DART should apply for that grant, instead.
“I'd like to see us get out of the streetcar business and direct funds elsewhere,” Willis said.
Reluctance on that project aside, City Council Members Tuesday supported the effort.
“Our job is to win this money. We don't want to miss out on money coming into the city of Dallas,” Councilman Narvaez said.
Resident Ward Lee agreed with the need to improve Grand Avenue.
“We’ve been waiting on something to happen for years,” he said.
Details on criteria for all the possible federal grants are still being finalized. Some have been published and the application deadline for one is next month.
The Regional Planning Council of the North Central Texas Council of Governments will decide on how the state funding for larger projects like freeway reconstruction is allocated.