Roundabout idea at dangerous intersection shot down by Fort Smith Board

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 2,267 views 

Preliminary roundabout design at Free Ferry and Albert Pike in Fort Smith.

The Fort Smith Board of Directors effectively shut down discussion of the possibility of a roundabout at the intersection of Albert Pike Avenue and Free Ferry Road during its study session Tuesday (Sept. 12).

Stan Snodgrass, director of engineering, told the board that the city’s traffic accident report that identified the top 10 intersections with the highest rate of accidents when compared to daily traffic showed the intersection ranked as No. 7 in 2021 and No. 10 in 2022. There were 10 accidents in 2021 and 8 accidents in 2022 at the intersection, which is a 4-way stop.

In June, Traffic Engineering Consultants completed their Traffic Capacity Analysis for this intersection, a memo from Snodgrass on the intersection said.

“Based on the results of the analyses conducted, installation of a traffic signal or construction of a roundabout should be considered for the intersection of Free Ferry Road and Albert Pike Avenue. While both are expected to operate at overall acceptable levels-of-service ‘A,’ the roundabout is expected to be more cost-effective overall than a traffic signal,” that analysis noted. “Given the relatively high crash rates and highly residential surrounding land use resulting in low truck traffic, the intersection of Free Ferry Road and Albert Pike Avenue would be a good candidate for a roundabout.”

The city was considering bringing a request to the board for $189,016 for an engineering study of the intersection that would include all options for the intersection and would include studies, drawing plans, public input and more.

Because of a amount of public feedback against the idea of a roundabout, several city directors said a roundabout would require the city needing too much private property. While the option of a street light at the intersection was considered, property owners also expressed concern over the amount of land needed and the drawbacks to the possibility.

Director Lavon Morton said he would like the city to look into putting stop signs with flashing lights and signs 100 feet before the stop signs saying a stop is ahead. Director Christina Catsavis agreed this would be a good idea. Matt Meeker, director of streets and traffic control, said he doesn’t think flashing stop signs will work. He said those signs are effective in areas where stop signs are newly installed.

“Something different needs to be done,” Meeker said. “A roundabout may not be the answer, but something needs to be done with that intersection in regards to public safety and public welfare.”

Morton said it would be worth seeing for a year if the flashing four-way stop signs work at the intersection.

A motion to put the engineering study on the agenda for a future meeting did not receive a second, so will not be on a future agenda.