Slow progress on Dallas Street projects raises concerns

There are a lot of street problems in Dallas, and there are new problems that the city is lagging behind to solve.

The Public Works Department, which is responsible for day-to-day street maintenance and capital repairs on bonds, has 1,432 jobs on streets, lanes, sidewalks, or bridges in its FY 2023 work plan, which began in October. The January progress report shows 236 completed.

“I’m very concerned about these numbers,” said city council member Kara Mendelsohn. “When I saw this report, I lost sleep.”

One of many examples is West Davis Street between Ravinia and Paisley Street in Oak Cliff. There are no sidewalks in the areas. Empty buildings on a shopping street can attract new businesses with a better street.

This segment was scheduled for a complete renovation and new sidewalks with money raised from the 2017 Improvement Bond Referendum. Records show that work is not due to begin until 2025.

Resident Alberto Higerina said he often walks along Davis Street.

“If you open more properties, more commercial and all that, they will pay taxes. They pay for the road to get it fixed. With all this, everyone can win,” he said.

A similar message was delivered by Mendelssohn to city staff at a meeting on transport issues.

“This is a serious problem. The 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 address street maintenance issues that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“2021 and 2022 were the years we struggled because of the pandemic, because of the lack of concrete and all these problems that we had. But I’m pretty sure we’ll have more in the future, that we’ll be able to 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 winter comes, colder months, more rain, construction slows down. And during the summer, spring and summer, when you have warmer months, less rain, there is usually a significant increase in building activity,” said Dallas assistant city manager Robert Perez.

Mendelsohn said she recognizes the changing seasons, but still questions only 7% of the annual work completed during the four months of the reporting period.

“In public works, it’s all about making it your priority,” Mendelsohn said.

She said other projects that were proposed for public works should come second.

Resident Alberto Higerina said that improving the streets would bring many benefits.

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

Dallas Public Works budgeted $189,335,232 for outdoor projects this fiscal year. The report shows that $14,739,113 was spent.

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