Part two of Berry Street Initiative set to begin in January

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    Phase two of the Berry Street Initiative is set to begin in January in order to create a pedestrian-friendly area around campus.

    The Berry Street Initiative has been an ongoing project since the late 1990s. Don Mills, former Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, said the goal of the project is to create an urban village that will be safer for people walking around.

    “The street will become narrower, and the median will be wider so you can cross the street without risking your life,” Mills said.

    Sandra Dennehy, president of the Berry Street Initiative, said construction will begin after the 2011 football season.

    The construction will create additional protected street parking as well as the addition of turning lanes down Berry Street, Dennehy said. Bronze Horned Frog emblems at the intersection of Berry Street and University Drive are also in the plans.

    Arty Wheaton-Rodriguez, senior planner for the Fort Worth Planning and Development Department, said at least one lane on both the north and south side of Berry will be open throughout the construction. Planners are still working with traffic control to see if routes will need to be altered and how to utilize them, he said. 

    Phase one of the initiative, which covered the area between McCart Avenue and the GrandMarc in 2007, involved widening sidewalks, creating a median, and the construction of the GrandMarc, Wheaton-Rodriguez said.

    Phase two of the project includes widening sidewalks, adding landscaping, and providing better lighting in the area, Wheaton-Rodriguez said.

    Blair Bookman, a senior advertising/public relations major, said she has to cross Berry every day to get to class. Even though she said she felt safe, there were still times it was hard to get across.

    “Sometimes I’ll walk halfway across the street, stop in the turn lane and people will yell at me for being in the middle of the street,” Bookman said. “But if you don’t do that you’ll never get across because it’s so busy,”

    Mills said Berry Street was once a thriving commercial street with small shops, boutiques and restaurants. When the city began widening the street in an effort to move traffic through the city, the smaller businesses struggled and were soon replaced by fast food restaurants, bigger businesses and parking lots.

    Dennehy said Transit Orient Development believes in creating communities where people can live, work and play in the same general area.

    The Berry Street Initiative could eventually create a commuter rail station near the intersection of Berry Street and Cleburne Road that would connect with the airport, Dennehy said. Although plans are in place, there is not an estimated time of when the project will be completed.