The 2017 School year has begun and right on schedule so have Greenwood’s traffic issues. Along Hwy. 10 bumper to bumper traffic could be seen Monday morning stretching from well past East Hills to the east to past Denver Street to the west on the first day of classes. It is a problem that has plagued mayors and councils for years. Many plans have been made in the past to try and remedy the situation and that has been part of the problem, too many plans.
Greenwood Mayor Doug Kinslow stated that he has reached out to the engineering firm Hawkins and Weir, out of Van Buren, to create a single bypass proposal that the city can submit to the Arkansas Department of Transportation for consideration.
The newly proposed bypass would go from the intersection of hwy. 96 and East Center, divert it to the South, through Dr. James Burgess’s property, and empty that traffic onto hwy. 10. The plan also proposes the extension of Main Street down to the new bypass. Kinslow stated that Dr. Burgess has agreed to sell the needed property to the city and Burgess is behind the plan 100%.
More than just traffic relief a bypass will ensure that emergency services can reach the east side of town in the event that a bridge were to be damaged or an accident were to block the way for police, fire or ems. “A bypass would be tremendously important,” said Jeff Turner Assistant County Administrator for Sebastian County. “We do a dam break exercise where we employ a helicopter because we would be virtually cutoff if something happened to those bridges. A bypass would be very important to public safety and the health of the entire county.”
A ballpark estimate for the project was made by Hawkins Weir of $8 million, which the mayor admits seems to be low considering that the one mile stretch of road will not only have to be elevated but will include three bridges which Kinslow estimates could cost $1 million a piece.
If the numbers are to be believed Greenwood is on the verge of a population increase unlike anything in the city’s history. In 2016 the Frontier Metropolitan Planning Organization predicted that the largest population growth in the area is expected to be in Greenwood with a 153 percent projected increase by the year 2040. All this adds up to a population of approximately 24,495 by 2040, which is shocking considering that the current number is just 9,666.
A bypass will not only get the traffic moving through town but may open up new areas of the city to the south for the development of not only residential but of commercial properties in Greenwood.
According to a letter that was sent to the city from the Arkansas Department of Transportation the department has agreed to conduct an updated study to “determine the need for and feasibility of a bypass.”
Mayor Kinslow stated that the three key elements to getting the project approved:
The city is projected to have two million dollars in the bank by the end of the year for street improvements and could have up to four million if they were to bond the three quarter cent sales tax, which would require a vote of the citizens to approve. Four million dollars, depending on the cost of the project may or may not be enough. Kinslow stated that he understands that the city needs to be prepared to fund fifty percent of the total project.
-The city should already have the property either purchased or agreed to purchase.
The property is available and the landowner, Dr. Burgess, is willing to sell the needed land to the city.
- A section of state highway that the ADOT can turn over to the city to maintain.
And the city could potentially take over hwy. 10 that runs through town after the ADOT overlays it.
“But until we know exactly what the cost will be how can we address how to pay for it?” said Kinslow.