With the growth of the University of Central Arkansas, the school and the city have been discussion how to address traffic issues surrounding the campus.
Conway Mayor Tab Townsell spoke to the UCA Board of Trustees at their meeting Dec. 13 and introduced several options to address the growth — and resulting traffic — from the university.
“This is an historic opportunity for us to rethink a major place in the city of Conway as well as a major entrance to campus,” Townsell said.
In the long run, the city and university are going to have to look at the size of the streets bordering UCA — Dave Ward Drive, Donaghey, College and Farris — Townsell said.
In the meantime, Townsell said it’s imperative to look at the capacity of those four roads.
When it comes to College Avenue, the mayor said the road’s importance extends far beyond the campus, and the first section to be widened would probably be Farris to Salem or Farris to Donaghey.
Through the Donaghey Corridor, the pressure has ramped up between Dave Ward Drive and Bruce Street.
“What we’ve found and what we’ve discovered is that roundabouts work,” Townsell said. “We suggest that roundabouts would be a good addition to this corridor. They do tend to slow traffic but they allow a lot more traffic to get through. It doesn’t sound like those two statements work, but they do.”
One suggestion for a roundabout on Donaghey is at Robins Street and Beatrice Powell Street, joining the two roads by swinging the two roads together in front of the College of Business.
“What that would require is us closing Robins Street and giving that back to the property owners on either side — in this case, you own both sides so that becomes your property,” Townsell said.
Other roundabout possibilities are at Bruce Street and College Avenue.
Roundabouts work well for traffic, Townsell said, but they are not great for pedestrians. Instead, he suggested a signalized pedestrian crossing with a red light or a 16-foot wide pedestrian underpass.
Additionally, Townsell mentioned the possibility for UCA to develop an urban streetscape on the east side of Donaghey between South Boulevard and Bruce Street, possibly going even further both north and south depending on the university’s wishes.
“You have a chance to develop an urban streetscape here that could be a tremendous addition to the UCA campus and the city of Conway,” he said.
Donaghey Avenue could be extended to four lanes with or without a median, but Townsell said roundabouts may eliminate the need for wider roads because of how they handle traffic.
“But, just in case, now is the best time to widen,” he said.
Townsell said it would be important for the university to build what they plan on building at the east side of the road to the very edge of the right of way and “let it be a broad, urbanized sidewalk like you’d find at a major metropolitan area.”
He also said the west side of Donaghey is not as important to make as urban-feeling.
“Whatever you do though, wherever you can establish the right of way line and/or the building line, that’s where it’s going to be regardless of whether it’s three lanes or four lanes or median divided or not,” he said. “So that’s one of the critical decisions we’re going to have to make ... Once that line is set, that’s the last time you touch it.”
Overall, Townsell said outside of Central Landing and raising the sales tax revenue, “this is the most exciting project we have on the burner right now.”
No action was taken as this was just an informational presentation.
(Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1212. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)