Springdale wants feedback on the design for the widening and extension of 56th Street, between the roundabout on Don Tyson Parkway in Springdale and Johnson Mill Boulevard in Johnson. Design work for the $12 million project, spanning the two cities, is 50% completed.
On Thursday (Feb. 22), Springdale hosted a public meeting for the project in the Sam’s Club Community Room at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale.
Springdale-based Engineering Services Inc. (ESI) is completing the design, and Brian Moore, president of ESI, said he expects design work to be completed in six to eight months.
The engineering company has worked closely with the cities of Johnson and Springdale on the project. “It’s a pretty clear cut deal,” he said.
The timeline for construction has yet to determined, but the city will seek federal funding to pay for 80% of right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation in 2019, said Melissa Reeves, director of public relations for Springdale. Federal funding is paying for 80% of the $503,550 design project, and Springdale and Johnson will pay for 20% of the work. Springdale is responsible for 14%, or $70,497, and Johnson, 6%, or $30,213.
The 1.1-mile project will widen an existing two-lane portion of 56th Street and change its alignment, overlapping Johnson Mill Boulevard in Johnson. The street will be widened to four lanes with a median and sidewalks, and its alignment will be shifted to the east of the existing 56th Street. The new street will intersect with Johnson Mill Boulevard, north of Willow Creek Women’s Hospital in Johnson and replace a portion of the boulevard up to the interchange at Interstate 49. After the project is completed, the street will be renamed to Gene George Boulevard, Reeves said. The existing boulevard runs between U.S. Highway 412 and Don Tyson Parkway, but the city has plans to extend it north to Wagon Wheel Road, from Bleaux Avenue.
The 56th Street plans also show a roundabout at the intersection with New Hope Road. The two-lane road would be extended to the proposed roundabout, from the existing road, near the existing intersection with 56th Street. Also, New Hope Road will come to an end at a cul-de-sac, just north of Johnson Mill Boulevard. This will require neighbors such as Daryl Revelle, who lives west of Johnson Mill Boulevard and New Hope Road, to drive further east to reach 56th Street. But Revelle didn’t take issue with the project. “It’s going to happen one way or the other,” he said. “It’s just progress.”
The median included in the project will restrict some neighbors along the existing 56th Street from making left turns from their driveways in order to go north. To do so, they’ll turn right, go south on 56th Street and make a U-turn at a break in the median before heading north.
The new street will not require removal of any homes, Reeves said.
“It’s a good, smooth job,” said Terry Tucker, advanced environmental impact analyst for the Arkansas Department of Transportation. While it’s a city project, ArDOT has overlooked the plans, worked on environmental studies and provided guidance. Tucker has spent two years working on the project, which mostly runs through pasture.
After the public meeting, no other meetings are expected to take place for the design phase, Reeves said. But contracts for other project phases, such as construction, would come before Springdale City Council for a vote. On July 28, 2015, the city council approved the design work. In October 2016, the city hosted a meeting on preliminary alignments for the project.
Neighbor Mildred Fulfer, who attended the October 2016 meeting, said the design that was selected was the one she liked. “It’s as good as it’s going to get for me,” she said.
Deadline to submit feedback on the design is March 15.
This project, like the project to extend Don Tyson Parkway, from 56th Street to Arkansas Highway 112, is not part of the $92.7 million bond issue for street projects, Reeves said. In July and September 2017, Springdale hosted public meetings for feedback on the proposed alignments for the nearly 1-mile extension of Don Tyson Parkway after the city hired ESI to design the project. The city has since selected a variation of the A route. Design work on that project is underway, and a public meeting will be hosted when it’s 50% completed.