As the long-awaited underground utility projects continue in downtown Lubbock, a few other ventures are in the works by the city’s Tax Increment Financing Board.
Two coming to fruition in the near future are the first downtown gateway structure and bicycle lanes that would connect Texas Tech to downtown Lubbock.
Final details for those projects are still in the works, and although Delbert McDougal, the downtown master developer, did not wish to disclose details or renderings until they’re ready to be presented to the board, he did say movement is coming fast.
“There’s progress being made,” he said. “We’re coming along and I’m going to have a lot more really exciting stuff to announce
The gateway, which is still being finalized but would decorate Avenue Q near Glenna Goodacre Boulevard, is set to be a memorial to the victims of the tornado that struck Lubbock in 1970 and killed 26 people. The bicycle lanes being planned would be along Broadway, from University Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The city plans to procure a feasibility study soon in order to analyze the need to improve the bicycle infrastructure in Lubbock, but before that, Wood Franklin, director of public works, said the city intends to go ahead and implement a few select bike lanes in the downtown area.
The area they’re looking at first is on Broadway.
Franklin described it as making Broadway a “complete street,” which means it would account for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. He said the plan is to make the thoroughfare a three-lane road rather than four lanes, creating a lane in each direction with a designated turning lane in the middle.
Franklin said this would provide enough room for bike lanes going both ways.
“We’re looking at going all the way from University (Avenue) to MLK (Boulevard),” he said. “It would not only connect Texas Tech to downtown as part of downtown revitalization, but also allow the bicyclists to continue on through and get through the Canyon Lakes system.”
He said previous studies indicate there would be no congestion as a result of narrowing Broadway by one lane in each direction. Bike lanes require the city to repaint the streets, add signs and provide plenty of public notice and instructions, he said.
Once that project is complete — which Franklin optimistically cites this summer as a completion date — the city will start exploring other bike lanes in the downtown area. He said early focuses are on avenues K, L and U and Mac Davis Lane.
Another public project on the horizon as part of downtown Lubbock revitalization efforts would widen Eighth Street, providing a better connection with Glenna Goodacre Boulevard across Avenue Q. A date for that project has not been set. However, when it is finished, the memorial gateway is expected to be constructed just north of that intersection in the grass lot where the Buddy Holly statue once stood.
The Central Business District Tax Increment Financing Reinvestment Zone Board was set to approve those designs at its last meeting in February, but it was postponed as the designs are still pending. City staff are working with artists at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts for the design of the gateway project.
According to A-J Media archives, city staff intend to send in a grant application that, if approved, would yield somewhere between $50,000 and $200,000 for the gateway project that would be matched by the city.
While details for future projects are being ironed out, the city’s focus remains on the completion of the underground utilities project downtown.
Phase 3 of the project began earlier this month. The City Council previously approved $4.3 million in construction costs and engineering services of $305,000 to bury overhead utilities in an underground duct system along Avenue J from Mac Davis Lane to 19th Street, and then a few blocks of Ninth Street, Avenue G and Avenue F. It’s the largest of the phases thus far, said Neil Welch, city engineer.
The project is expected to be complete in November, followed by a final phase.
Also happening in downtown: McDougal said he is finalizing the documents and petitions to create a Public Improvement District for the area. PIDs are used for public improvements, identifying proposed improvements and the cost of construction and maintenance. They are tax entities that finance and maintain projects like improving landscaping, lighting and other upkeep.
He said he’s now reaching out to downtown landowners for the required number of signatures to present to the City Council.
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