A $4.7 million extension of Dixieland Road in Lowell is expected to provide an alternate route to Interstate 49 and relieve congestion for businesses. That includes Lowell-based carrier J.B. Hunt Transport Services, as Springdale looks to extend the road into the city.
Area officials gathered Monday (July 22) to celebrate the start of construction for the project to extend Dixieland Road, from where it ends south of Arkansas Highway 264 to Apple Blossom Road. The project is expected to be completed in mid-2020. Federal money and proceeds from the city of Lowell will pay for the project. Garver designed the project, and Emery Sapp & Sons is the general contractor. The road will be two lanes with a center turn lane and include sidewalks. It also will have a roundabout where it intersects with J.B. Hunt Corporate Drive in Lowell.
“It’s going to be a big help to this area,” said Steve Lawrence, a district engineer with the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT). “The area is already growing. Traffic issues probably made it harder to get in and out of here than it should be, but with this project, that’s going to help to address that. It’s a big day for Lowell and Benton County.”
Lowell Mayor Chris Moore explained the project would help to improve traffic for J.B. Hunt and hopes it will lead to economic development. The groundbreaking ceremony took place in the parking lot for J.B. Hunt’s Training and Technology Center, on which construction continues. The new road will run along the west side of the center and east of the carrier’s corporate offices. Benton County Judge Barry Moehring said while the road project isn’t near a county road, projects like this benefit everyone in the county.
Raymond Burns, president and CEO of Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, said the project allows for another north-south connector. He noted the significance of motorists being able to travel from north of Arkansas Highway 102 in Little Flock to Apple Blossom Road.
Dixieland Road will run nearly 10 miles from Little Flock to Springdale when the extension project is completed in Lowell. Tim Conklin, transportation programs manager for the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission, explained the importance of corridors parallel to I-49, especially when traffic becomes congested.
“Once you get off of I-49, you want to make sure the roadway network connects the cities and allows you to get from home to work or recreation without always having to depend on I-49 either,” Conklin said. “We’ve been focused on our north-south corridors.” He noted other corridors near the interstate such as Gene George Boulevard between Springdale and Johnson, Rupple Road in Fayetteville, and J.B. Hunt Drive in Rogers. “I-49 is wonderful, six lanes,” he said. “But when there’s an incident on I-49, we do need other ways to get around also.”
The city of Springdale has plans to extend Dixieland Road from Apple Blossom Road to Wagon Wheel Road as part of the city’s 2018 bond program. Roughly $93 million of the $224.7 million bond issue is designated for street improvements. The 1-mile project is expected to cost $5.23 million, and Springdale City Council is set to vote Tuesday (July 23) on whether to approve a contract with Garver to design the road.
Brad Baldwin, director of the engineering department, expects the design to be completed in nine months and construction to start by the second half of 2021. Details of the road, such as the number of lanes needed, will be determined in the design process, he said.