Leader Blues

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

TOP STORY>> Roads to go one-way

IN SHORT: Change along Hwy. 67/167 corridor could start next Monday evening

By John Hofheimer
Leader staff writer

Barring last-minute glitches, commuters will awaken Tuesday morning to find Landers and Warden roads between McCain Boulevard and Wildwood Avenue converted to one one-way roads, according to the state Highway and Transportation Department.

A decade in the planning and two years in the making, the one-way frontage roads will essentially form a counterclockwise loop running south on Warden and north on Landers, according to Farrell Wilson, special projects coordinator for the department’s public affairs office.

The conversion will make the roads safer and able to carry more traffic, Wilson said.
The frontage road conversion is part of a $22.5 million reconstruction that includes widening Hwy. 67/167 from McCain Boulevard to Wildwood Avenue.

As the main corridor in and out of central Arkansas from the north, approximately 80,000 vehicles travel the highway each day, with about 24,000 vehicles traveling on the frontage roads, she said.

Motorists on Landers will be able to cross over to Warden under a newly elevated section of Hwy. 67/167 at Five Mile Creek—site of the old Wal-Mart—or at Wildwood.

Southbound motorists on Warden wishing to cross over to Landers may do so at Five Mile Creek or at the elevated flyover located just yards north of the McCain Boulevard overpass, Wilson said.

Wilson said that to make the one-way conversion as safe and convenient as possible, the newly constructed turnaround at Wildwood and the underpass at Five Mile Creek would be opened at the same time that the frontage roads are converted.

It will take a few additional days to open the McCain Boulevard turnaround ramp, because it must be graded to smoothly meet the temporarily closed northbound lane of Landers Road.

“Reducing indirection for the convenience of motorists in this area has been a top priority for AHTD planners on the project,” said Dan Flowers, director.

“Initially, there may be some confusion as drivers adjust to this change, but once they become accustomed to the new travel patterns, motorists will see a significant improvement to the traffic flow and safety within this high-traffic corridor.”

“Indirection” refers to the current need for motorists entering or leaving the highway to negotiate on-coming traffic, a practice universally recognized as dangerous.

Depending on the weather, Wilson said the one-way conversion could begin as early as next Monday evening and would involve closing one lane on each frontage road, allowing motorists to get used to the new arrangement and also allowing the contractor—Muskogee Bridge Company—to resurface the closed lane.

Traffic on the frontage roads will always travel the same direction as the traffic in the adjacent lane of Hwy. 67/167. Frontage road traffic must yield to traffic exiting the highway.

Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim said conversion of those frontage roads and completion of the six-laning of the highway this fall between McCain and Wildwood won’t make much difference to traffic in Jacksonville, but plans call for the eventual widening of the highway through Jacksonville, and the frontage roads between Vanden-berg Boulevard and James Street could be converted to one-way, with new crossover structures that would allow motorists to get from one to the other.

Sherwood Mayor Bill Harmon couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Bids may be let in September for widening the next section of Hwy. 67/167 between Wildwood and Keihl and also from I-40 through the McCain Boulevard interchange.

A new entrance ramp from Warden to southbound Hwy. 67/167, roughly across from Dillard’s department store, also will be part of the next project.