WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — With increasing foot traffic projected downtown in coming years, the city is ready to start the next phase of its downtown master plan to make intersections more pedestrian friendly.

“As we’re asking people to go downtown more and basically begging them to see all of the great things we are doing down there, we are going to make sure we can make that place beautiful,” Mayor Stephen Santellana said.

That was the mission the Wichita Falls City Council and Director of Aviation, Traffic & Transportation John Burrus set out to accomplish in 2022 by upgrading the traffic signals.

“Those were some of our oldest traffic signals in town, and they were due for a replacement anyway,” Burrus said. “Yes, it does coincide with the downtown master plan and downtown re-development, but it was worth it and we needed to do it all along.”

This next phase of the $1.6M project will focus on housekeeping and long-term maintenance issues, but it also gives the signal poles a facelift.

“We took the opportunity to work with Downtown Wichita Falls Development, and we found, what I’m going to call, exciting street furniture, signal poles that will really compliment the flavor of downtown,” Burrus said.

This part of the project will total a little more than $61,500 and is something Burrus hopes the entire public can take pride in.

“This infrastructure is well over 60 years old, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if some of it is closer to 80 years old,” Burrus said. “It’s worth it. It just needs to be done, we are just taking the opportunity to upgrade it, and hopefully when it’s completed, it’ll be something not only downtown but the whole community can be proud of.”

All in hopes of getting prepared for the rapid growth of the downtown area along with the new hotel and convention center construction and an expected increase in foot traffic.

Other upgrades to these intersections will include LED lighted street name signs and audio pedestrian signals. Staff worked with Downtown Wichita Falls Development on the original purchase to select this signal hardware, and these pole arms will also complement the traditional and historic features of downtown.

Installation is set to begin in April 2023.