Changes will allow for bike lanes but take away parking spaces near UNT
Coming in the new year, driving between the Square and Bonnie Brae Street will be one-way all the way.
The directional change to two segments of Oak and Hickory streets may improve traffic flow — including new bike lanes — but it also means the loss of scores of parking spaces near the University of North Texas.
The city’s Traffic Safety Commission recommended that Oak and Hickory streets between Avenue C and Bonnie Brae Street be changed from two-way to one-way. The streets are already one way between the Square and Avenue C.
Because of its proximity to UNT, the area is notorious for on-street parking and traffic problems. Many students, and even some employees, forgo the cost of a university parking permit and park for free on city streets.
City officials got feedback from the neighborhood as they discussed the change, according to City Engineer Frank Payne, but the plan lay dormant for a while. City leaders also wanted to know whether the two streets would be appropriate for bike lanes.
Once the city determined bike lanes were a good fit for Oak and Hickory streets, the city’s traffic department began the conversion. At the end of October, crews installed “No Parking” signs on the north side of Oak Street and the south side of Hickory Street.
The police department is currently leaving warning notices on cars parked there. But, beginning Nov. 19, the department will be issuing parking tickets, according to department spokesman Ryan Grelle.
The fine for parking in a prohibited zone is $50.
In the coming days, crews will be putting up large, temporary signs to let drivers know the directional change is coming, Payne said. The notices will be at both ends of Hickory and Oak streets, as well as their intersections with North Texas Boulevard, a campus arterial.
In early January, crews are scheduled to put up the directional signs but cover them until the streets are striped.
Beginning Jan. 7, crews will set up traffic control on one of the streets and begin striping the next day, Payne said. Crews will repeat the procedure on the other street beginning Jan. 9.
To help drivers get used to the new configuration, the city will keep traffic control in place for two or three more days, Payne said.
He said that sometime after the change, the city will likely meet again with the neighborhood.
“We’ll see how it settles out,” Payne said.
If the neighborhood thinks more deterrents are needed, the city may offer other options to control traffic and parking in the area.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.