On Sunday, a portion of Ross Avenue leading into Downtown Dallas will be transformed into a pedestrian-friendly boulevard.
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The project is called the Build a Better Boulevard Challenge. And the idea is to temporarily give Dallas a grand boulevard resembling Las Ramblas in Barcelona or the Champs Eleyees in Paris.
That means pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes and spaces for local vendors and cafés to set up shop. In other words, taking the street back from the car.
Teams of volunteers including architects and designers as well as helpers from local churches and restaurants will work together to transform the area in 72 hours.
Jason Roberts is a founder of The Better Block Project, which has staged similar events in front of City Hall and in Oak Cliff.
ROBERTS: “Can we rethink our streets as opposed to being thoroughfares for cars, could they become places? And when I say that, you think about great places in our city like Greenville Avenue, or Bishop Boulevard in Bishop Arts or McKinney Avenue. So even though it’s a street, it’s really thought of as a place.”
The project will run along Ross Avenue from North Hawkins Street near the Arts District downtown to Pavillion St. just east of Central Expressway. Ross Avenue will remain open to cars, though some lanes will be closed.
Roberts says that, instead of commissioning expensive studies and 3D renderings, the city will actually be able to see the idea in action.
ROBERTS: “It’s a chance for the community to take the fear out of planning and this 10 year process oftentimes, and say, “Look, let’s just put something on the ground, and if we all agree this is a great revisioning for the space, perfect, let’s make this permanent. Or, we can actually learn from the project, too. We can come back and say, you know what, these trees didn’t work, or maybe this bike lane was too skinny or too wide, or there wasn’t enough parking for this area here. So it’s a chance for us to use the scientific method and test out ideas.”
Also planned for the event are a dog park, a temporary beach and redesigned bus stops. You can visit the Build a Better Boulevard Challenge on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.