The Arkansas Department of Transportation has published an update for the proposed bypass that will provide Greenwood with traffic relief. The 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. Greenwood Mayor Doug Kinslow stated that Dr. Burgess has agreed to sell the needed property to the city and Burgess is behind the plan 100%.
At the start of every school year on Hwy. 10 bumper to bumper traffic can be seen 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.
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.”
According to the report commuting trends in the study area revealed that over 60 percent of workers in Greenwood travel daily to employers in the Fort Smith area. Furthermore, over 1,500 residents east of Adamson Creek travel through Greenwood to employers in the Fort Smith area.
Construction of a Greenwood bypass has been discussed for many years. The 1996 Greenwood Master Street Plan considered such a project as /(necessary for the continued orderly industrial growth and development on the south side of Highway 10." Greenwood Bypass Study, adopted by the Commission in 2007, provided several alignments for a potential Highway 10 bypass.
According to the study the lack of connectivity results in high traffic volumes on Highway 10. This causes long peak hour delays and makes employment in Fort Smith more difficult to access.
“In future years, delays are expected to further increase along with the duration of peak periods,” states the report.
In future years, volumes are expected to exceed capacity at the intersection of Highway 10 Spur and Highway 71. Southbound traffic on Highway 71 turning left at Highway 10 Spur currently yields to northbound traffic before turning. As traffic volumes increase, these turns will become increasingly difficult to make, leading to long delays on Highway 71.
A review of the pavement and bridge conditions was conducted for Highways 10 and 10 Spur to determine if any deficiencies are present. The International Roughness Index (IRI), crack rating, and rutting were used to evaluate the pavement. The pavement for both routes is considered poor, and therefore qualifies for preventative maintenance according to the Department's Preventative Maintenance Plan. No bridge sufficiency ratings were low enough to warrant replacement.
Pedestrians and bicycles
Presently, the only sidewalks on Highway 10 are within the Central Business District (CBD). There are no sidewalks on Highway 10 Spur. Pedestrians have been observed walking in the grass adjacent of Highways 10 and 10 Spur outside of the CBD. Bicycle lanes are not present anywhere in Greenwood. A multi-use trail is provided in the neighborhoods surrounding the CBD. The City of Greenwood Master Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities Plan includes an expanded system of trails to serve most neighborhoods, including a trail crossing of Adamson Creek.
Under this alternative, Highway 10 would be relocated to a four-lane, divided, access partially controlled route on new location between Highway 96 and Coker Street. Highway 10 would also be widened to four travel lanes between Coker Street and Highway 71. Main Street could also be extended south as a city street to intersect the relocated Highway 10.
The total cost of this alternative is estimated to be $26.3 million (in 2017 dollars), including right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation, preliminary engineering, and construction engineering. The estimated construction cost is $20.6 million (in 2017 dollars).
A bypass would:
Provide a second route across Adamson Creek, system connectivity through Greenwood and southeastern Sebastian County would be greatly improved. Residents would have an improved route to reach employment opportunities, and the risk of a temporary roadway closure would be lessened.
The new route would divert most through traffic and some local traffic from Highway 10 through the CBD. This diversion would ensure adequate operations on existing Highways 10 and lOS as well as the new route through 2040.
Crash rates would be improved by reducing stop-and-go conditions on Highways 10 and 10 Spur and by diverting through traffic onto a partially controlled access route.
Traffic volumes would decrease on existing Highways 10 and lOS through central Greenwood, facilitating pedestrian and bicycle use. Additionally, the new route would include pedestrian accommodations.
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.
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 may need to be prepared to fund fifty percent of the total project.
“But until we know exactly what the cost will be how can we address how to pay for it?” said Kinslow.