Slow Progress on Dallas Street Projects Raises Concerns

Officials say they are still catching up after COVID-19 pandemic delays

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Dallas has many street problems and there are new concerns the city is falling behind in catching up with them.

The Public Works Department that’s responsible for routine street maintenance and bond money capital improvement projects has 1,432 street, alley, sidewalk or bridge jobs on the Fiscal Year 2023 work plan that began in October. A report of progress through January shows 236 completed.

“I’m very concerned with these numbers,” City Council Member Cara Mendelsohn said. “When I saw this report, this caused me to lose sleep.”

One example of many is West Davis Street between Ravinia and Paisley Street in Oak Cliff.  Portions have no sidewalks. Vacant buildings on the commercial stretch might attract new businesses with a better street.

The segment was scheduled for total reconstruction and new sidewalks with money from the 2017 public improvement bond referendum. Records show the job is not set to begin now until 2025.

Resident Alberto Gijerina said he uses Davis Street often.

“If you open more facilities, more commercial and everything, they pay the taxes. They pay the road to be fixed. Everybody can win with all this,” he said.

Mendelsohn had a similar message for city staff at the transportation meeting.

“This is a major concern. Streets are a priority for our people and our quality of life,” she said.

Officials said two new contractors were hired in February to help tackle street maintenance issues that grew during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“2021 and 2022 were the years we were struggling because of the pandemic, because of the shortage of the concrete and all these problems that we had. But I’m pretty sure that we’re going to have a higher number down the road, that we can move forward with these new contracts that we have,” said Dallas Public Works Director Ali Hatefi.

City officials also blame the weather.

“Every year when you get into the winter, colder months, more rain, construction slows down. And in the summer, spring and summer, when you have warmer months, less rain, is typically when you see a major increase in construction activity,” Assistant Dallas City Manager Robert Perez said.

Mendelsohn said she recognizes the change in seasons but still questioned just 7% percent of the year’s work completed within four months of reporting time.

“Everything is dependent for public works on getting this done as your priority,” Mendelsohn said.

She said other projects public works have been asked to accomplish should come second.

Resident Alberto Gijerina said there would be many benefits from better streets.

“We can prevent a lot of the accidents, with all the traffic that we have in our city,” he said.

Dallas Public Works has $189,335,232 budgeted for street projects in this fiscal year. The report shows $14,739,113 has been spent.

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