The first segment of the former Fulton Mall in downtown Fresno opened for automobile traffic on Tuesday for the first time in more than 50 years, as the city took down barricades on the rebuilt Fulton Street between Tuolumne and Fresno streets.
The two-block stretch is the first of three “super blocks” of Fulton Street to open as a result of a $20 million project to restore automobile traffic to the Fulton Mall. Fulton Street was closed in 1964 between Tuolumne Street at the north to Inyo Street at the south to create the pedestrian-only mall. The street includes one lane of traffic in each direction as well as street parking.
The restoration project includes new street signs and relocation of the civic art that was installed on the Fulton Mall. Most of the art and amenities have been completed on the Tuolumne-Fresno streets segment, but a few remain to be finished.
The southernmost section of Fulton Street between Tulare and Inyo streets is expected to open next week. And the opening of the final segment, between Fresno and Tulare streets, will be marked by a ribbon-cutting celebration on Oct. 21.
The restoration of traffic to Fulton Street is viewed by the city as a key component of efforts to revitalize downtown Fresno. For decades, major retailers that once lined the Fulton Mall closed their doors and relocated to newer shopping centers to the north, leaving the mall to become an area dominated by smaller businesses that was nearly abandoned after work hours during weekdays.
Work on the reconstruction project began in March 2016. Money for the project came from federal and state grants.