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have been able to complete were the restoration of the MKT train depot on Rogers Street, new street lighting, landscaping features and the purchase of the Texas Theater to preserve it as a downtown entertainment venue. PROJECTS TO BE FUNDED One of the first projects that will be undertaken by the city is the replacement of infrastructure — water and sewer lines — in down-

town. The existing water and sewer lines are more than 100 years old and constructed of cast iron or clay. “All of the projects are evaluated on an objective scale. I think there were 30-some projects and 13 evaluation criteria. So projects could score between a zero and a 13. The most important project is the downtown infrastructure,” Nelson said. “Over the years, the capacity in the water lines and sewer lines degrades. Over time a water line that used to have a 100 percent capacity now has 20 percent. So you now have 20 percent of the capacity left to support all of what is going on in downtown.” Nelson said the infrastructure projects are geared to start in 2017, and the City of Ennis is contributing $7.5 million to the project. It will include the replacement of alleyways and the infrastructure in downtown and along Dallas Street, as well. DOWNTOWN TRAIN BRIDGE To help connect visitors and residents to the downtown of Ennis to the I-45 business corridor, an underpass could be installed to elevate the existing railroad tracks. “Part of this revitalization is getting someone from I-45 to come into the downtown. In our case it is somewhat unique for us is that we have this railroad crossing that creates this physical barrier,” Nelson said. Ennis Main Street Coordinator Becky McCarty shared Nelson’s thoughts about how this new bridge will improve connectivity between the two points in the city. “When you go to downtown or go to the Walmart or when anybody is exiting off of I-45 you get on Ennis Avenue when you get the to Kaufman Street there is not anything there visually, or there is a train. There is nothing to pull you in,” McCarty said. “If there is a train every resident in Ennis is going to turn right or left. They are going to go left so they can go under the under pass and completely bypass downtown Ennis or are going to right and go wherever they need to go so they can cross. Downtown has become a pass through. So that is one of the big things. Even being here at the visitor’s bureau they get to Kaufman Street, and they say there is nothing else here. They turn around and go back the highway.” Nelson added that the new bridge would not only improve safety and connect both areas of the city, but it will serve as a giant billboard and a gateway into downtown. The bridge will feature the city name prominently on the top of it. The city has sent out a request for quotes with hopes of landing an engineering firm that can do this type of construction for the bridge project. OTHER PROJECTS Work has already started on Minnie McDowal Park that is located at the intersection of Dallas and Knox Streets, as the property was previously purchased for a new welcome center in downtown. This new building is looking to house the convention and visitor’s bureau, the economic development team, the building inspections team and possibly the chamber of commerce. “We recently took a road trip to Rockwall and they went through an entire downtown infrastructure upgrade. They updated all of their streets, sidewalks, access to all of their buildings and we talked to them about how businesses survived,” McCarty said. “We are trying to work with our partners that are doing the infrastructure. One of the marketing campaigns that we have going on is called ‘Here we Grow.’ Yes, all of our businesses are open but pardon our dust. We have got stuff going on, so come and check it out.”

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Profile for Cable Printing

2017 destinations complete  

2017 destinations complete