Highway 265 expansion provides alternate north-south route in NWA

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 2,736 views 

State and city leaders cut a ribbon Friday (Jan. 4) to celebrate the completion of a 4-mile segment of Highway 265, between north of Pleasant Grove Road to Arkansas Highway 264.

State and city leaders celebrated the completion of a segment of Arkansas Highway 265 and honored Dick Trammel of Rogers, outgoing chairman of the Arkansas Highway Commission, in a ceremony Friday (Jan. 4) at the Jones Center in Springdale.

Construction on a 4-mile segment of Highway 265, between north of Pleasant Grove Road and Arkansas Highway 264, was recently completed, while a segment to the south is under construction west of the existing highway, between Randall Wobbe Lane in Springdale and Highway 264. Crossland Construction Co. of Columbus, Kan., completed the three-lane segment running along Old Wire Road and a new route, and work on the $15.4 million project started in January 2016.

“I’m here today because the Highway 265 expansion is an important, new north-south corridor that is critical for the traffic flow here in Northwest Arkansas,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “I live here. I understand this route. I understand the importance of it, I understand the backup of travel, I understand you have to wait for the right time to get onto the interstate. So this will give another avenue for that north-south travel that is so important to the growing area of our state.”

Hutchinson also recognized Trammel’s work on the highway commission. “Dickey has been a real leader, keeping an eye not just on the state but also on Northwest Arkansas,” he said. “This project, I know, is important to him.”

The Highway 265 segment under construction between Highway 264 and Randall Wobbe is expected to be completed this spring, Trammel said. Apac-Central Inc. is completing the $10.2 million project, and the new 1.92-mile segment of the highway will be five lanes. The existing two-lane segment of Highway 265 remains open to the east.

The combined Highway 265 projects allow for another north-south route east of Interstate 49, said Danny Straessle, public information officer for the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT).

“This will be Trammel’s last ribbon cutting, and then his last commission meeting will be on Wednesday of next week,” Straessle said. Trammel, whose 10-year term on the highway commission expires Jan. 14, will be replaced by businessman and political activist Keith Gibson of Fort Smith.

Trammel said he’s worked on the Highway 265 project for 12 years.  “It means a lot to me because it’s a project that I had really worked on with the chamber committee before I went onto the commission,” he said in a phone interview Thursday (Jan. 3). “We recognized that there needed to be a new north-south corridor, and this corridor is the quickest and least expensive to the taxpayer that we could do to make a new north-south corridor go straight through. It’s practically finished.” He joked that the ribbon cutting was being hosted out of courtesy while he was still a commissioner.

When completed this spring, Highway 265 will be between three and five lanes wide, from Pleasant Grove Road south of downtown Rogers to Highway 16 in southeast Fayetteville, Trammel said. He expects the 18.24-mile corridor to alleviate traffic on Highway 71B and I-49, by removing 6,000 to 8,000 per day from the two roads.

“It’s a new north-south corridor that we didn’t have before,” Trammel said. “I’ve driven most of it. There’s a lot of homes along 265 all the way from 16 to Rogers, and this gives them a new corridor where they don’t have to go to 71 or I-49.”

One of the challenges with the recently completed segment was at the Cross Hollows intersection, ArDOT Director Scott Bennett said. The solution was a 672-foot-long bridge that’s 70 feet tall at its highest point.

The first Highway 265 corridor project started in 1978, and when the last project is completed, ArDOT will have spent $105.9 million on eight projects to construct the highway, between Highway 16 in Fayetteville and Pleasant Grove Road in Rogers, Bennett said. The projects have been paid for with gas tax receipts, and Fayetteville and Springdale have contributed $15.1 million toward the corridor.

“We’ve had a lot of capacity investments in this region over the last few years — Interstate 49, now Highway 265. We’re starting to work on the 112 corridor too,” Bennett said. “But we’re making a lot of progress in improving mobility and safety and enhancing economic development in this area, and we’re glad to be able to make this a reality today.”