The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT) is studying whether to improve about 30 miles of state highways in western Benton County. ArDOT will host two meetings this month to gather feedback for the Arkansas Highways 59 and 72 corridor study.
The study focuses on Highway 59 from U.S. Highway 412 in Siloam Springs to the Missouri state line and Highway 72 between Highway 59 and Interstate 49. The study is expected to take up to two years to complete and will serve as a guide to area agencies planning for transportation needs.
The meetings will run from 4 to 7 p.m. at Gravette High School, 325 Lion Drive South, in Gravette on Aug. 29 and at Gentry Public Library, 105 E. Main St. in Gentry, on Aug. 31. Exhibits and information presented at the meetings are also available on online. Link here for the website. Comments will be accepted online until Oct. 2.
Jared Wiley, chief engineer of preconstruction for ArDOT, said the study came about after ArDOT officials met with the Western Benton County Partnership, a group that’s looking into multiple issues important to western Benton County. According to the group, the Highway 59 corridor is experiencing increased growth and rising traffic volumes, especially in Gravette and near where the Bella Vista Bypass was completed.
“The goal for the study is to determine what transportation needs exist in the area, and what needs we expect to encounter in about 20 years and to put forth some proposed solutions,” Wiley said. “That study will tell us here’s what’s needed in this timeframe.”
The study will show needed improvements and cost estimates, he said. For example, in corridor areas that are already widened to five lanes, the improvements might address safety concerns and intersections that need work.
Wiley said after the cost estimates are determined, ArDOT can consider project funding availability. He noted a possible source is the state has $25 million annually available for partnerships with cities and counties.
According to ArDOT, average daily traffic along the Highway 59 corridor ranges from 20,000 at Cheri Whitlock Drive in Siloam Springs to about 2,000 near the Missouri state line. The traffic along Highway 72 corridor ranges from 8,200 near Gravette to 9,400 near I-49.