El Paso

Community meeting on University Pedestrian Improvements Project held tonight

University Pedestrian Improvements

EL PASO, Texas - A community meeting on the University Pedestrian Improvements Project will be held Thursday evening.

City council voted last week to enter an agreement with the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority to jumpstart construction of pedestrian improvement projects in Kern Place near UTEP.

The $2.8 million project, which includes the construction of the signature Sun City lights archway in Kern place, will improve street and pedestrian safety, according to city officials.

Construction is expected to begin in August and is expected to wrap up by the end of the year.

Construction to Cincinnati and Glory Road/Baltimore streets located between Oregon and Stanton will include street rehabilitation, increased parking, sidewalk reconstruction and widening, traffic calming street lighting and landscaping.

During construction, there will be public access to all businesses, however, many of them have suffered due to the ongoing streetcar construction.

City representative Peter Svarzbien says the city is coming up with custom advertisements and banners that'll let the public know about open businesses. They'll also offer free parking during days and weekends during construction periods, except special events, at the Glory Road Transfer Center.

As for the project itself, Svarzbien tells ABC-7 the way it's aligned now does not work for nearby businesses. They'll add an additional 70 parking spaces between Stanton from Baltimore toward the Albertsons.

"What you saw in previous years was that customers would come and park up into the neighborhoods to go out to eat and get a drink. And oftentimes, the neighborhood felt it was disruptive with those people parking in the neighborhoods. So what the city is doing is taking a hollistic approach, not jut going to fix the street, but adding some lights, so taking a hollistic approach to these issues of parking, of pedestrian safety and efficient and safe lighting and street reconstruction and approaching it at the same time," Svarzbien said.

"It is a safe, pretty area to walk around, especially on the weekends, and yet it's not safe when it starts getting dark. It's not good for traffic, people can be run over, or even though it's a relatively safe area, it doesn't feel safe walking by yourself."

Mara Hernandez regularly walks with her group of special needs children the Kern area near the Cincinatti District and Stanton. She tells ABC-7 she worries about walking late at night, when the area is the busiest. She says she's hoping the city focuses more on the safety aspect of the project before anything else.

Anna Valenzuela with Pret A Porter fashions, says her business has suffered since the streetcar construction began. She says although the projects will overlap, she hopes the city sticks to their construction schedule.

"I just really wish they would commit to a deadline, and have everything concrete as far as it getting done because I know with the street trolley project, I mean it was very misled to believe that it would be a very quick, smooth, construction situation and it wasn't," Valenzuela said.

Valenzuela says she supports urban development, and says she's optimistic construction will move faster than the streetcar project.

"I'm hoping and being positive, optimistic that this will be a quick and easy move for us."

The meeting will be held at 6 P.M. at the Mesita Elementary School auditorium.

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