Street improvements, flooding repairs part of Fort Smith capital plan

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 558 views 

The Fort Smith Board of Directors on Tuesday (Nov. 7) will consider a resolution approving a five-year capital improvement plan for the city’s streets, bridges and drainage system that will improve almost 13 miles of streets and include significant work on drainage programs in 2024.

Stan Snodgrass, director of engineering for the city, said the improvements planned are funded by the city’s one-cent sales tax. The tax generated $28.85 million in 2022. Through September, the tax has generated $22.62 million, 5.08% more than the $21.526 million reported in the first eight months of 2022.

“Determination of projects is based on numerous factors including pavement ratings of streets, interdepartmental requests, citizen input, economic development, and input from the Board of Directors,” Snodgrass said in a memo. “The proposed plan includes a combination of neighborhood street improvements, major street projects, drainage improvements, and traffic signal/intersection improvements.”

The total length of streets to be improved next year is 12.7 miles with a total cost of $15.8 million, the proposal states. Of that expenditure, $1.5 will be budgeted in 2024 and $14.3 million will be budgeted for 2025. Total to be spent on street improvements and overlays in 2024, according to the proposal, is $14.4 million, including $12.9 million for 2023 projects.

The proposed budget for 2024 also calls for spending $100,000 for left turn signals at Fifth Street and Garrison Avenue to help with downtown truck traffic, but any modification to this intersection has to wait until the Arkansas Department of Transportation study of Highway 64 is completed. That study is expected to be completed in 2024.

The proposal includes work on 25 intersections and signals in 2024 with a cost of $1.4 million. The total cost of work for intersections in 2024 is estimated at $2.55 million, which includes continuing work on ongoing projects.

The department also expects to begin bank stabilization work on the bank of the Arkansas River adjacent to the city’s levee system. The project is estimated to cost $3 million and Snodgrass states in the report that construction is anticipated to begin next year.

“With major flooding on the Arkansas River, the river bank adjacent to the levee has experienced significant erosion and requires stabilization before the erosion encroaches to the toe of the levee,” the department’s CIP states.

The major flooding of the Arkansas River in 2019 also caused construction problems and damage to the May Branch Outfall Culvert. A project to remediate that, which has a price tag of approximately $10 million is expected to begin in January. A construction manager/general contractor has already been selected, the CIP states.

Neighborhood drainage improvements in the proposed budget for 2024 includes an evaluation for an regional stormwater detention pond at the northern side Hardscrabble Country Club, the project should alleviate storm flooding on East Valley Road and South X Street. The total cost for the project is estimated at $2.2 million, with $200,000 budgeted in 2024 and $1 million budgeted in each 2025 and 2026.

The total cost for neighborhood drainage projects in 2024 is estimated at $10.5 million, which includes $10.3 million in remaining work for ongoing drainage projects.