Major street work in Washington County are finished or near completion

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 369 views 

Orange and white barrels and cones have become a way of life across Northwest Arkansas, including major street projects in Fayetteville and Springdale.

While the Arkansas Highway and Transportation continues work on Interstate 49 in Fayetteville and through to Springdale, Fayetteville officials celebrated the opening of a new section of Van Asche Drive, a one-mile east-west stretch from Gregg Avenue to Arkansas 112. This project cost $4.6 million and was funded and managed by the state because it is a state highway. 

The new segment of Van Asche Drive opens an area near Sam’s Club and northwest Fayetteville to new commercial, said Chris Brown, city engineer for Fayetteville.

Earlier in the summer, the city marked the completion of Arkansas 265, giving motorists a new north-south route between Springdale and Fayetteville. The Arkansas 265 widening cost $9.5 million, funded by the State Highway Commission it began in 2013 and wrapped up earlier this year.

Brown said much of the congestion experienced on 265, also called Crossover Drive, and has been eased “tremendously.” The road experienced what Brown called a “tremendous amount of pressure” and didn’t have the capacity for the traffic it carried. 

With the completion of Van Asche and the opening of Arkansas 265, the city now turns its attention to two major projects: The extension of Rupple Road on the city’s west side and major improvements on Old Wire Road and Mission Boulevard.

Residents praised the plan for Old Wire Road as “long overdue” and “40 years in the coming” during a recent public input session to show plans and gather resident comment. The first phase of the project will include two travel lanes with two outside bicycle lanes, a five-foot wide sidewalk along the west side of the roadway and a 10-foot multi-use trail on the east side of the roadway, the addition of left turn lanes at Ash Street and the installation of storm sewer. 

Construction is expected to get underway next year. The project should take about 12 months to complete. 

The first phase of the total $4.5 million project is improvement at the intersection of Mission and Old Wire. Relocation of utilities has started at that intersection and signalization will be added as part of the improvements. Some 16,000 cars travel on Mission Boulevard through that intersection, Brown said.

“That’s a lot for a two-lane road.”

Eventually the improvements will extend from Stanton Street to sidewalks on Mission to Crossover, Brown said. The city’s portion of the price tag comes from Transportation Bond program, Brown said. About $1 million comes from federal funds, Brown added.

The Ash to Stanton portion of the project is expected to be completed in late 2017.

“It’s an important bike connection and makes the area more walkable,” Brown said, noting principal destinations in that part of Fayetteville include Gulley Park and Root Elementary School.

Evan Bukey said he has lived on Meadow Cliff Street in the vicinity of Old Wire and Stanton for about four decades.

“This is forty years in the coming,” he said as he pored over the maps showing the plans at City Hall.

His street, he added, is the most unknown street in Fayetteville and is an extension of Loxley Street. He has watched vehicles slide into ditches on Old Wire and is glad to see storm sewers will be installed. Liz Fulton, another resident in the vicinity of Old Wire and Ash, said the residents have been waiting for years for these improvements.

“It’s long overdue,” Fulton said, noting the intersection at Ash and Old Wire has been a bottleneck as traffic has increased over the years.

The city has also broken ground for the $7.1 million extension of Rupple Road from just south of Persimmon Street to U.S. 62, also known at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The project will be a 1.5 mile extension to the four-lane street with a median and opens several hundred acres to residential and commercial development.

The City Council recently approved rezoning about 600 acres on either side of the proposed alignment of the street for development.

“That’s a lot of open space with development potential” Brown said. Sweetser Construction Co. is the contractor for the project after submitting a $7.1 construction bid. This project is 100% funded by the 2006 transportation bond money. Construction has started at the south end, off U.S. 62, with site preparation.

SPRINGDALE INVESTMENT
Moving north into Springdale, that city is nearing completion of 56th Street, from Don Tyson Parkway north to U.S. 412, according to Brad Baldwin, the city engineer. Baldwin said the project includes four-laning the street and installation of two round-abouts at Apple Street and Don Tyson Parkway.

Once construction approaches U.S. 412, from the south, work will be done in pieces, he said, but noted the work could be completed around Thanksgiving, depending on the weather.

Arvest Ballpark is on 56th Street and two major building projects have been announced adjacent to the ballpark. One is the Washington campus for Northwest Arkansas Community College, west of the ballpark. The other is the planned expansion of Arkansas Children’s Hospital announced earlier this summer. Fort Smith-based KFSM is also reportedly eyeing west Springdale near Arvest Ballpark area for its expanded Northwest Arkansas organization.

 

The city’s long-range street plans include the extension of 56th Street U.S. 412, or Sunset Avenue, to Elm Springs Road, according to Springdale Planning Director, Patsy Christy. She said there is no timeline for when that might happen. But, she added, that will create a demand for services and change traffic patterns on the west side of the city.

And, Sam’s Club has announced plans to build a new store in Springdale on 56th Street, south of U.S. 412, possibly starting next year.

 

Another major project that may be completed by the end of the year is on the east end of Don Tyson Parkway. Baldwin said the curb and gutter and asphalt is being added on the east side of Springdale between Hylton and Habberton roads where round-abouts will be added at each end.

Also the parkway is being widened between 40th and Carley streets. Baldwin said this project has been moving more slowly and has experience some utility location issues. He didn’t have a target completion date.

Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse recently told The City Wire that the widening of 56th street from Don Tyson to U.S. 412 has a projected cost of $15 million. 

The mayor said an expanded 56th street will provide an alternative route to the planned Sam’s Club which is to be located along U.S. 412 or Sunset Street. Sprouse said the city will also widen the interchange at Elm Springs Road later this year to help with heavy traffic flow. That project is slated for summer 2016 the bridge widening is expected to cost of $5 million. Sprouse told The City Wire that the city is funding $1 million of the total amount.

Baldwin said the city has placed of a temporary traffic signal on the east side of the interstate has helped ease traffic congestion on Elm Springs Road for the time being. Once construction begins, traffic congestion will return, he added.