May the Road Rise Up to Meet You…

Jesse Davis, Denton City Councilmember, District 3

So begins that lovely and well-known Irish blessing. But for too long in the City of Denton, the road might have literally risen up to meet you, or disappeared from underneath you, or rattled your teeth so hard you thought they might fall out.

If you’ve been here very long at all, you remember when Eagle Drive looked like a battlefield, and the only road crews you saw seemed to be filling the same potholes year after year. In 2009, our average “Overall Condition Index” (OCI) was an embarrassing 63 out of 100. As recently as 2018, fully 25% of our city-maintained roads had failed, and need to be rebuilt.

The culprit was years of deferred maintenance. But as our local economy has boomed, we gained the funds to do what I call “banking our growth.” In short, this means using our higher revenues and excellent bond ratings to invest in infrastructure we’ll use for decades. On the City Council, I’ve pushed to put as many resources as we can spare into road improvements.

Of course, this means that we’ve traded potholes for orange cones. As annoying as construction can be, the people of Denton consistently say that they prefer action over slow decay. In 2019, voters approved $154 million in new bonds for road projects. We’ve also stepped up the pace on projects approved in the 2012 and 2014 bond elections.

We are making solid progress. Hundreds of miles of roads have been rebuilt or resurfaced all across the city. Our average OCI has improved. Eagle Drive is complete, and Oak Streets is smooth as glass from I-35 through downtown. The Bonnie Brae Street widening is fully underway, and will eventually be four divided lanes all the way from Loop 288 down to US 377. Even the most infamous section of Hickory Street is finally under construction.

Unfortunately, some of our busiest thoroughfares are TxDOT’s responsibility. But even those are looking better. Construction on Teasley Drive has recommenced after resolving contractor issues. North Elm and Locust have brand new surfaces. South Elm and Locust will get the same once we finish drainage and utility projects. On the upside, once TxDOT rebuilds these roads, Elm, Locust, and Dallas Drive will become City of Denton property. That means we’ll have more control over changes and maintenance schedules going forward.

We know there is much more work to do to bring Denton’s roads up to the standard we really need. And we have real traffic flow and safety concerns to address. For example, we are working with TxDOT to plan improvements at the intersection of I-35 and University Drive—a quagmire best avoided almost any time of day. However, please rest assured that city management and I are committed to continued improvement.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me on these issues and any others before the Denton City Council. You can reach me at [email protected] I look forward to hearing from you, and I’ll see you around town!