University

drive

Project sponsored by:

A special thanks to CDFW Sponsors:

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the Real Estate Council of Greater Fort
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About the project

As a new organization, a straightforward initial project affecting the broadest range of people was important. Because University Drive is an important north/south street connecting many of our important cultural resources that draw millions of tourists to the city, the usability of this corridor affects a broad spectrum of visitors and residents.

 

These cultural resources are located along University Drive:

  • Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

  • Kimbell Art Museum

  • Amon Carter Museum of American Art

  • Fort Worth Community Arts Center

  • Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

  • Cowgirl Hall of Fame

  • Dickies Arena

  • Will Rogers Coliseum and Auditorium

  • Farrington Field

  • Botanic Research Institute of Texas

  • Fort Worth Botanic Gardens

  • Trinity Park

  • Westbend – Retail

  • University Park Village – Retail

  • Trinity River and Trails

  • Fort Worth Zoo

  • Log Cabin Village

  • Colonial Country Club – Host of the annual Dean and DeLuca Invitational Golf Tournament

  • Texas Christian University

These wonderful assets are not tied together with a great street or thoroughfare that includes continuous sidewalks to cultural resources and amenities, good and accessible bus stops, street trees, pedestrian lighting, and a cohesive path for bikes and pedestrians under I-30 and Chisholm Trail Parkway

mission alignment

With a mission to enhance the quality of life in Fort Worth, the University Drive corridor presented significant opportunities for improvement. Amenities along this corridor are shared by residents and millions of visitors a year. As Fort Worth continues to increase population and as resource attendance continues to grow, new ideas and strategies are needed to address the future challenges facing this corridor. The goal of this project is to generate ways to improve the corridor for residents and visitors whether they are driving, walking, biking, or using mass transit. University Drive connects one of the greatest and most diverse collection of cultural resources in the United States and is deserving of improvements to match. The current state of the corridor however, does not match the quality and importance of the cultural resources located along its path. This document proposes straightforward ideas to address the physical and visual challenges along the existing corridor. It also includes some big concepts that could visually impact Southwest Parkway, Rail lines, and I-30 where they cross University. It is our hope that improvements addressing the challenges identified in this document will create a corridor worthy of the resources it serves.

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project approach

Imagine driving on University Drive from the Cultural District to TCU. As you travel from north to south, the roadway seamlessly transitions from an attractive garden themed boulevard into a vibrant walkable commercial street through back into a neighborhood boulevard. The purpose of the University Drive Corridor Plan is to establish a framework that will achieve this seamless transition and inform a transformation of University Drive into a revitalized and multimodal thoroughfare that provides a strong economic basis for development, enhances enjoyment by visitors and community members alike, and improves mobility and safety for all users.

 

Historically, transportation infrastructure has been designed, funded and maintained to react to existing congestion by adding capacity, typically through the addition of new travel lanes even though physical infrastructure is inherently intertwined with fiscal, economic, social, environmental, and political themes and agendas. Yet, the need to develop a corridor plan is often focused on a specific mode, a single issue, or an isolated geography.

 

Community leaders and the public assume that all community elements are being considered simultaneously. Building better roads, while considering all community elements, can change the problematic patterns that impair communities’ quality of life — congestion is just the most visible symptom of the underlying problems.

 

The University Drive Corridor Study was initiated to look beyond congestion and to identify a vision for transportation improvements to increase all modes of transportation safety, improve traffic flow, improve corridor aesthetics, and incorporate the changing context of the roadway. This study will allow City staff and officials to select design options along the University Corridor Plan that most closely align with desired outcomes. The role of this document will be a guide that memorializes the planning process and creates a forum and environment where partnerships can flourish well after the plan is completed.

analysis

In the summer of 2016, CDCFW walked both sides of the corridor from the Zoo to the Cultural District. Along the way, they documented impediments to pedestrians, cyclists, riders of mass transit, and those arriving by vehicles.

These impediments included the following:

  • Only four (4) crossings of University Drive for pedestrians from Lancaster Avenue to the zoo, encouraging excessive speeding along the street and further discouraging foot traffic. Most were poorly marked

  • No bus shelters

  • No legal or safe pedestrian crossing between Trinity Park and the Botanic Gardens directly across the street

  • Many areas with no sidewalks or ADA access, connecting the commercial, retail, park and museum districts for the benefit of pedestrians and cyclists

  • Inconsistent or inadequate lighting

  • Lack of shade for pedestrians (Trees in the parkway)

  • No pedestrian or bike access under highway and rail infrastructure crossing University Drive.

  • Highway and railroad crossing of University Drive is dark and uninviting

  • Inadequate signage for trail access or other amenities (including Log Cabin Village)

meetings with key stakeholders

One of the core values of CDCFW as an organization is to empower communities to participate in planning processes aimed at elevating design solutions while promoting community needs and values. CDCFW aims to be responsive to all stakeholders. To this end, over the course of the last 12 months, CDCFW held meetings with key representative stakeholders in this study area. These meeting resulted in several common findings, including:

  • Agreement that University Drive as a gateway to some of Fort Worth’s most important venues and visitor attractions left much to be desired.

  • Safety continues to be an issue with the “suicide lanes” down the middle.

  • Wide lanes encourage faster traffic, which exacerbates the safety concern

  • Aesthetics of the corridor should be more welcoming

  • Stakeholders would be okay with a PID which would help pay for and maintain improvements

  • Pedestrian connectivity and walkability were found lacking, discouraging interactivity between developments on the east and west sides of University.

 

concept development

CDCFW held a board charrette to review the current state of the corridor and consider its future. This event resulted in a focus on traffic patterns, planned and potential development, pedestrian and bicycle connectivity, multimodal transportation access, and aesthetic improvements. This report documents the design recommendations and aligns an implementation strategy to assist in the planning, design and eventual reconstruction of this culturally significant corridor.

pre existing conditions

segment strategies

 

Given the multi-disciplinary constitution of the Board, our effort encompassed many various, yet linked, strategies. The recommendations incorporated in this report are designed to enhance the experience of residents, visitors, consumers and owners of the numerous community assets and commercial outlets, while safeguarding the health and well-being of the pedestrians, cyclists and drivers who travel and experience this major urban thoroughfare.

context sensitive design approach

University Drive represents an opportunity to create a great street that is comfortable for everyone who uses the street whether on bike, walking, or by vehicle. The newly adopted City of Fort Worth Master Thoroughfare Plan (MTP) establishes a vision of providing a complete and connected, context-sensitive transportation system for all users that supports mobility, healthy living and economic benefit. The ideas and strategies for University Drive, meet the vision of the MTP and its three goals of mobility, safety and opportunity, and its Complete Street philosophy of supporting all transportation users by:

 

1. Providing basic connectivity and accessibility by including accessible Active Transportation elements in each street cross-section with an eye toward building a city-wide network, and

 

2. Focusing on safety and comfort by: narrowing street widths wherever possible (to facilitate pedestrian crossings), buffering people walking and biking from automobile traffic where appropriate, and providing space for streetscape elements (such as trees) to calm traffic and provide a more comfortable user experience.

access management

At each intersection, cross street, or driveway, a vehicle faces a number of conflict points with other movements of travel. Each of these conflict points poses an opportunity for the vehicle to hit another vehicle. Access management improves safety by separating access points so that turning and crossing movements occur at fewer locations.

 

Introducing a raised median to restrict the movement of traffic at these locations reduces the number of conflict points from 32 to 4 (see Figure). The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recommends the use of access management design to achieve better traffic flow, fewer crashes, and more convenient business access along commercial corridors. In high traffic volume conditions, a raised median may improve safety by separating traffic flows and controlling left-turn and crossing maneuvers. The use of raised medians should be discouraged where the roadway crosssection is too narrow for U-turns.

 

Roadways with raised medians are safer at higher speeds and at higher traffic volumes than undivided roadways as University Drive is today. Based on studies conducted across the country, roadways with a raised median have an average crash rate about 30 percent less than roadways with a continuous left-turn lane.

 

With the addition of a raised median, a determination of the most appropriate median openings and opening type will need to be addressed. The placement of the median opening must first consider the thoroughfare system. Priority should be given to those thoroughfares providing mobility and access generators along the corridor. The median treatment can take on many different forms. The concepts following this section illustrates the recommended median openings along University Drive.

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recommendations

The following recommendations relate to the specific segments and highlight the key strategies for the segment of roadway. Additional details and locations are mapped in subsequent sections of this study.

 

Cultural Gateway

  • Create safe crossings from Trinity River Park to Will Rogers and the Botanical Gardens

  • Increase the quality of bus stops/shelters

  • Improve walkability by connecting sidewalks down University and through Trinity River Park

 

Commercial Core

  • Improve intersections and wayfinding for better pedestrian and bike connectivity

  • Install medians for aesthetics and traffic management needs

  • Improve bike/pedestrian connections along Trinity River to provide safer crossings under I-30.

 

University Gateway

  • Establish a gateway to the TCU Campus by announcing a presence and approach at the University/Trinity River Bridge

  • Control traffic through efficient use of medians and landscaping

  • Improve walkways and bus stops/shelters for pedestrians

 

green streets

A Green Street is defined as a street that incorporates landscape, stormwater controls, and sustainability elements to improve ecological and human health. More specifically, a Green Street is a public street right-of-way that is context-sensitive and that incorporates landscape features, engineered stormwater controls, and sustainability principles and practices to enhance street design, mitigate the Urban Heat Island effect, improve water and air quality, and conserve ecological resources. The concept of green infrastructure design recognizes that natural systems can often do a better job of serving communities than the “grey infrastructure” of pipes and concrete that has been the focus of systems designed over the past several decades. Investment in grey infrastructure has had unintended consequences—paving and other impervious surfaces cause increased runoff, reduced groundwater recharge and higher urban temperatures, for example. Green infrastructure includes natural swales, healthy tree canopy, pervious pavement, green roofs, infiltration planting in medians, curb-less streets, biodetention areas that double as open space and/or landscaping and a number of other techniques.

 

Green infrastructure design, or low impact development, uses nature to detain storm water, recharge groundwater and reduce runoff. In North Texas, the Council of Governments has convened a group of local governments to develop the integrated Storm Water Management (iSWM) program. This program is “a cooperative initiative that assists cities and counties to achieve their goals of water quality protection, streambank protection and flood mitigation, while also helping communities meet their construction and post-construction obligations under state stormwater permits.” This program provides technical tools that can be used by cities and developers to design neighborhoods and business areas that use natural systems as part of a safe, cost-effective infrastructure.

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improve connectivity

The largest hurdle to overcome is the lack of pedestrian and bicycle connectivity down the corridor. A focused approach to connectivity as a primary goal and outcome will have untold effects on the community and economy

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cultural gateway

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additional resources