Nearly three years after construction began, the new $11 million Center Street bridge over Interstate 20 opened to drivers Friday afternoon.The bridge, paid for by the City of Arlington and built by the Texas Department of Transportation, extends Center Street south of Highlander Boulevard, over the interstate and south to Bardin Road. The project aims to enhance regional mobility by relieving traffic congestion on Matlock Road and Cooper Street and making it easier for drivers to access the Arlington Highlands shopping center north of I-20 as well as neighborhoods and businesses south of the interstate.“This is a big day in Arlington. We not only dream big. We get our dreams done,” Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said during a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday to celebrate the long-anticipated bridge opening. “This morning we are standing on one of those dreams.”Several business leaders, including the Kleiman | Evangelista Eye Center, Park Place Motors Arlington, and Fairbourne Properties, the operating manager of the Arlington Highlands, attended the City’s ceremony. Speakers also included U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, State Rep. Chris Turner and TxDOT Fort Worth District Engineer Brian Barth.“Over the years, TxDOT and the City of Arlington have become close partners in transportation. From big projects that change the landscape, like our I-30 mobility project in the Entertainment District and the I-30/State Highway 360 Interchange Project, to smaller but still important projects like our FM 157/ Cooper Street median installation. These projects have helped define what a successful transportation partnership looks like. The Center Street bridge is another example of this partnership,” Barth said.The four-lane bridge, whose design was based on North Central Texas Council of Governments 2050 traffic projections, has the ability to expand to six lanes if necessary. The bridge is a “flyover” and cannot be accessed directly from the interstate.Along the east side of the bridge, a 10-foot-wide hike and bike lane improves connectivity and travel options for cyclists and pedestrians. This shared-use path strengthens the Regional Veloweb network
, which aims to create connections to housing, employment, and entertainment areas within the region.If not for strong sales tax and property tax revenue generated by the Arlington Highlands shopping center, which is one of the City’s top retail, entertainment and dining destinations, funding for this project would not have been available. The City of Arlington paid for the bridge using tax revenues captured in the Arlington Highlands Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ).
After the ceremony, three Park Place Motorcars Mercedes-Benz vehicles were the first cars to officially cross the bridge. The company, with 95 employees, opened its dealership and service center along the southern edge of the interstate in 2014 and has been looking forward to increased access afforded by the bridge.
“The Center Street bridge is such a fabulous addition to south Arlington. It’s going to open up opportunities for people to move about the city easier and allow companies such as Park Place Motorcars Arlington do business more efficiently,” said Carolyn Alvey, representing Park Place Motors Arlington.The Kleiman | Evangelista Eye Center, which employs about 50 workers and serves more than 200 clients a day, also sees the Center Street bridge as a major asset for residents, visitors and south Arlington businesses.“We truly believe having the additional access will not only improve the patient experience, it will be beneficial to our employees who call Arlington home,” said James Tanner, Regional Director of Refractive Services. “We look forward to the increase in business this could bring.”The Center Street bridge does more than provide south Arlington residents with another way to reach the Arlington Highlands, said State Rep. Chris Turner, whose District 101 lies south of the bridge. The newly extended north-south corridor will also make it easier for them to travel to downtown, the University of Texas at Arlington and the Entertainment District, he said.Williams said it seems like each month brings a new project to celebrate in The American Dream City. That lengthy list includes the $1.4 billion expansion underway at the General Motors Assembly Plant, the upcoming construction of Texas Live! and the future Texas Rangers ballpark, development along Interstate 30, and the new Downtown Library.“All of these are examples of Arlington’s big dreams getting done. Now we can add Center street bridge over I-20 to that list,” said Williams, adding that the bridge has been one of the City’s visions for more than a decade. “It is another exciting milestone we have here. Our city is on the move and we are doing it with great partners helping us.”