Leader Blues

Monday, March 02, 2009

TOP STORY >> Congestion draws public comments

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

Operation Bottleneck, Metro-plan’s public-participation survey of traffic congestion and safety on Central Arkansas streets, roads and highways, drew more than 200 comments from residents of the Jacksonville, Cabot and Sherwood areas alone, and some draft results of the survey have just been released.

As might be anticipated along the Hwy. 67/167 corridor that runs through those three cities, many of the congestion problems are either on or associated with that highway.

As might be guessed, congestion and safety concerns frequently were identified at the same locations.

Fixes to the various problems will be grouped as relatively easy, like signs, paint or synchronizing traffic signals; short term, which would require more substantial fixes, such as road widening, and long-term fixes, which might include highway ramps or realignment of intersections.

Those distinctions were not made in a draft report released Wednesday.

JACKSONVILLE


Within Jacksonville city limits, 98 comments identified points of congestion and another 24 pointed out safety concerns, according to a draft report released this week.

About half of the congestion comments concerned either state Hwy. 67/167 or else I-440, with the highest incidence citing a “huge bottleneck and unsynchronized lights at Vandenberg Boulevard and First Street at John Harden, T.P. White or Loop Road.”

Possible solutions, easy to complex, include an interchange and corridor study, modification of frontage roads to one-way and modification of lane striping.

VANDENBERG LOOP?

Residents suggested constructing a loop ramp for Vandenberg and airbase traffic off Hwy. 67/167, which would require modification to T.P. White and to the Lowe’s parking lot.

City officials could review signal coordination and implement advanced traffic control system along First Street.

Congestion at the Main Street and Hwy. 67/167 interchange is caused by too much merging traffic and a possible solution would be to widen Hwy. 67/167 and lengthen the merge lane and a study of reconfiguring the interchange.

Another congestion spot sited was the Main Street/James Street/Dupree Drive intersection, where a study is already underway looking at options.

Residents cited the Hwy. 67/167 interchange at Redmond Road as “very dangerous,” but the proposed widening of the highway should help.

JAMES STREET

They found the James Street overpass at Hwy. 67/167 too narrow. Possible solutions include addition of roundabouts on James Street at the on and off ramps and also the widening of the bridge in preparation of the widening of Hwy. 67/167. Also, the eventual modifications of frontage roads to one-way would be expected to help.

Other congestion points cited were the John Harden yield sign at the Vandenberg ramp, John Harden at Wal-Mart and also at JP Wright Loop Road at Linda Lane.

Safety concerns at the greater Vandenberg intersection could be largely solved through the same measures as the previously mentioned congestion at that spot.

Other safety concerns included a citywide lack of sidewalks, the five-lane section of First Street, the railroad crossing at J.P. Wright Loop Road and also Jacksonville Cutoff Road, where there is no room for pedestrians.

SHERWOOD

In Sherwood, most of the 51 comments about traffic congestion pertained either to commuting on Hwy 67/167, I-40 and I-30 or else along Brockington Road and Hwy. 107.

A flyover connecting Sherwood and Gravel Ridge with Hwy. 67/167 allows motorists to exit directly from the freeway/frontage road onto Brookswood/Brockington. As a result the widening of Brock-ington Road should start soon.

Congestion in that area is on Hwy. 107 to Kiehl, with design already completed on widening to a four-lane divided road.

Other problem spots were turning left from Indian Bay Drive onto Brockington, and also problems on Lantrip and Kiehl to Warden Road.

Hwy. 107 problems

Problems along Hwy. 107, the main route connecting Sherwood and north Pulaski County with North Little Rock and Little Rock, will be partially solved by widening Hwy. 107, currently underway, upgrading traffic signals and signal coordination, according to the Operation Bottleneck draft.

Other Sherwood congestion problems cited were at North Hills at Country Club, Wildwood at Country Club, Fairway at Five-Mile Creek and Warden Road north of Kiehl, where drivers are traveling the wrong direction.

Twenty-five safety concerns were cited, including at Hwy. 107 at Kiehl Avenue, Indian Bay Drive at Maryland, at Abundant Life School and Wal-mart and also on Kiehl, Country Club, Warden Road north of Kiehl, Powhattan at Warden Road, Jacksonville Cutoff and also citywide, a lack of sidewalks.

CABOT

Responses from Cabot residents and commuters included not only congestion on Hwy. 67/167 and I-40, but within the city limits. Congestion points were identified along Hwy. 89, Hwy. 321, Hwy. 38 and Locust Street.

The report said most comments were related to the Hwy. 89 corridor, the intersection of Hwy 5, Hwy. 321 and Hwy. 367 and also the area near Cabot High School.

It identifies Hwy. 89 from Rockwood to Lincoln Street as one of the most congested segments in central Arkansas.

In 0.8 miles there are six signalized intersections resulting in congestion during peak travel time.

Suggestions include signal coordination, widening Hwy. 89 to four lanes with a raised median for access management. In the long term, Hwy. 89 west of Hwy. 67/167 is recommended for widening.

The interchange of Hwy. 67/167 and Hwy. 5 and the signaled intersections nearby are also major congestion points.

Hwy. 5 north of the interchange will be widened and the city and the Highway and Transportation Department have restriped the overpass for two northbound lanes and install a signal at Hwy. 5 and John Harden at Rockwood.

Signals are being retimed, but backups are still frequent during peak traffic, the report noted.

INTERCHANGE
RECONSTRUCTION


“Long-term improvements may include the reconstruction of this interchange, moving the Hwy. 321/367 ramp south and possible widening of Hwy. 321,” the report says. Other areas identified as congested include Locust Street from Hwy. 67/167 to Lincoln Street and also Magness Creek Drive near the elementary school.

Thirty-six safety concerns, including several along Hwy. 5 and Hwy. 321 were noted, as well as on Hwy. 38 at the Cabot High School and Middle School, where raised crosswalks, better lighting and flashing beacons may help.

Safety issues also were identified on Hwy. 367, Kerr Station Road, South First Street, Campground, Willow Drive, Locust Street, Shiloh subdivision and lack of cross-walks or sidewalks near all schools.