Mayor Lee Brand was joined by former Mayor Ashley Swearengin, City leaders, staff and hundreds of supporters to witness the grand re-opening of Fulton Street in the heart of downtown Fresno and the successful completion of the Fulton Street Reconstruction Project. The event re-opens the six-block-long thoroughfare to vehicular traffic for the first time in more than 50 years.
The reopening of Fulton Street to traffic represents a significant milestone in the revitalization of downtown Fresno. The reconstructed Fulton Street now has two-way traffic, on-street parking and wide pedestrian-friendly sidewalks.
“Downtown is poised for a renaissance and we hope that these new businesses opening now will one day become iconic – restoring Fulton Street as the heart of downtown,” said Mayor Brand. “My strong belief is that ten years from now downtown and Fulton Street will be transformed into a more vibrant and prosperous destination.”
The original Fulton Street was converted into a six-block pedestrian mall in 1964 but the Fulton Mall began to decline in the late ‘80s as Fresno grew to the north. Like many pedestrian malls around the country, the Fulton Mall became plagued by high vacancy rates, declining foot traffic and vagrancy.
In February 2014 the Fresno City Council voted to reopen the mall to automobile traffic. In May of the same year, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), acting on behalf of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), approved federal funds for a project to reintroduce vehicular traffic to the Fulton Mall. On December 3, 2015, with a six-to-one vote, the Council awarded a $22.4 million contract to a local company, American Paving.
The project, which broke ground in March of 2016, includes 3,357 tons of asphalt concrete, 140,000 square feet of new sidewalks, 200 new parallel parking spaces, over 200 new LED street lights and pedestrian lights, and waypoint signs directing visitors to other places of interest around downtown Fresno.
All 32 of the public art pieces have been conserved, restored and replaced on Fulton Street, including 16 reconstructed fountains that are brightly lit, and new landscaping and irrigation now displays more trees on Fulton Street than were previously on the Mall.
“A downtown on the rise means a city on the move,” added Mayor Brand. “We are ready for everything our future promises.”