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'Easier access to the highway': University Parks drive now open to traffic

Businesses are hopeful for more traffic after the opening of University Parks Drive.
University Parks Drive
Posted at 10:16 AM, Jun 11, 2024

WACO, Texas (KXXV) — A road that’s been closed for four years is finally open to drive in Waco. One downtown business is hopeful for more business after the city opened University Parks Drive.

  • J-Petal in downtown opened up in 2018, right before COVID-19, and right before the city shut down University Parks Drive for construction in 2020.
  • Owners saw an impact in their businesses after the construction shut down the road, but now they're hoping with the road open, they'll have more traffic to their restaurant.
  • The construction isn’t fully complete, so there might be some partial lane closures at times. This is one phase of the riverfront project. Future projects include an upgraded park area and greenspaces for events.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

“The location was such an important factor. University Parks is a major blood vessel to our business,” JR Fuentes said. 

Fuentes opened up J-Petal in downtown in 2018, right before COVID-19, and right before the city shut down University Parks Drive for construction in 2020.

“We’re talking about everything from underground utilities, Telecom electric all the way to our very tall parking garages over here,” Jessica Emmett-Sellers with the City of Waco said.

While those changes are meant to improve the look and atmosphere of downtown, Fuentes says it played an impact on businesses along their street.

“There’s been a few businesses around us that have come and gone, and I definitely think the economical impact of construction and COVID and there’s been a correlation to that,” Fuentes said.

The construction isn’t totally over, but the road and new sidewalks are now open for locals.

“It’ll be easier access to the highway and getting downtown so we look forward to using it for sure,” one Waco resident said.

And for visitors.

“We want to make sure that there’s an easy way for them to get downtown and enjoy all of the new restaurants and hotels, and everything and make it really easy for people to get back and forth,” Emmett-Sellers said.

During construction, Fuentes says it was tough for customers to find their restaurant, but now, he’s hoping with more cars driving by they’ll give his small business a chance.

“I think we’re gonna see the full potential. I think it’s great that the construction is being completed because it’s great for a city and it’s a great attraction. I think it’s going to allow people to walk more, more easily to our location,” Fuentes said.

Again the construction isn’t fully complete, so there might be some partial lane closures at times. Emmett-Sellers tells me this is one phase of the riverfront project. Future projects include an upgraded park area and greenspaces for events.


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