Arlington State of the City: Mayor teases regional rideshare, university campus, tourism
Arlington Mayor Jim Ross painted the picture of a united city bringing in large events, companies and improvements to public education during the annual State of the City Address—and teased what's to come.
"This most diverse community is better when we do everything together. It's just that simple," Ross says. "We have enough divisiveness in this country. We don't need it here—we're stronger together."
Among the announcements included plans in progress for a regional rideshare transportation program through the Via. The rideshare company contracts with the cities of Arlington and Grand Prairie to drive people around the cities for $5 and under. Ross says he's working with the mayors of Grand Prairie and Mansfield to conduct a service that operates throughout all three cities.
"We hope that we will be able to launch a regional tri-city Via ... so that people can share the experiences of all of our cities, giving us a huge start on regionalizing this area," Ross says.
Ron Jensen, Grand Prairie's mayor, confirmed the three mayors were in discussions with one another about possibly joining rideshare services to connect riders across the cities, or at least to major locations across city lines.
"It is early stages, but we are hopeful we can arrive at a feasible option that can get all our residents to essential services within our three cities, without unduly competing with private sector transportation services," Jensen said in an emailed statement to KERA.
Ross pointed to a few regional projects in the works—a hyperloop, high speed rail and RAPID bus transit—as projects that have potential but are years and billions of funds away from completion.
"Here's the thing: (Via's) not going to take years to happen. We hope to have this underway in just a matter of months," Ross says.
Ross also announced, on the heels of Texas Southern University opening an administrative and recruiting office in Arlington, that the university is discussing with the city adding a North Texas location in Arlington.
"We're excited to add them into the mix," Ross says.
Ross highlighted a bevy of projects and programs in downtown and the entertainment district.
"If you couldn't find something to do in town over this last year, you haven't left your house," he says.
Among them, he announced the Arlington American Dream Fest, a celebration of the diversity of music, art, esports and food in the area. Ross says he has wanted a way to display Arlington's diversity since his swearing in as mayor.
"How do we tell the world that we get it, that we don't care what the color of your skin, what your religious difference is, what your gender is, what your cultural differences are, we just don't care? What we care about is how you treat one another," he says.
The festival will run through Labor Day Weekend in 2023 in downtown Arlington.
Ross also announced that Taste Project, a "pay-what-you-can" restaurant planned for Cooper Street, received $750,000 from the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation, a quasi-governmental philanthropy.
Arlington has also seen steady growth in and around its entertainment district.
Trademark Property Company, which purchased Arlington's run-down shopping center Lincoln Square, will spend $250 million to build high-end apartments, offices and new businesses.
"We are excited about the changes. They're going to be bringing office space, high-end multifamily, retail—everything that you can imagine making that area a more walkable, livable space," Ross says.
The entertainment district is also gaining a luxury apartment complex, One Rangers Way, the National Medal of Honor Museum and a hotel and convention center. The Loews hotel project will be the site of the 2026 International Association of Fire Fighters convention.
Infrastructure and transit
Ross leveled with listeners: there's still months of road closures and traffic in store due to the Interstate 30/Highway 360 Interchange Project. The city's received reassurance from the state that the project will be finished by the end of 2023.
"We're all tired of it, folks, let me tell you," Ross says. "We have been staying on TXDoT continuously."
Ross also teased repairs to Randol Mill Road between Cooper and Collins streets, which is notoriously a bumpy ride for motorists. The city in August announced it received county funding for half of the project and is expected to ask for the other half of funding in a 2023 bond package. The plan seeks to widen Randol Mill Road from four lanes to six, construct sidewalks and curb ramps that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Ross also mentioned Arlington Municipal Airport obtained national status.
"Our little regional airport isn't so little anymore," Ross says.
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