The City of Conway celebrated the completion of the Prince Street road improvement project Monday morning in a ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Tab Townsell and City Engineer Ronnie Hall.
The project replaced three traffic lights with three roundabouts in a four lane, median divided street design. The new design handles heavy, early and evening traffic rushes as well as school and church traffic.
The street design includes a shared bike lane, curb separated sidewalk and cross walk with ADA access ramp.
City Engineer Ronnie Hall said roundabouts handle congestion and reduce traffic delay by 75 percent.
Mayor Tab Townsell said he believes this project will serve as a model for the City of Conway and across the state.
JCI Construction, Inc. of Mayflower was the contractor for the project. JCI was the original contractor who took the street from two to three lanes in the early 90s.
Conway Corporation installed the streetlamp-style lights along the median.
The stretch of Prince Street, from Salem Road to Farris Road, consists of about $4 million in construction costs and $500,000 in right of way acquisition costs, Townsell said.
Hall says it costs about $120,000 to $150,000 to put in a roundabout. Hall explained the majority of the cost comes from right of way acquisition.
“When you take a two lane road with two ditches and you fill in the ditch to make a three lane road, you’re doing [property owners] a favor,” Townsell said, “but taking more of his property to take a three lane road out to a four or five lane road, well then you’re in his business.”
Hall said although initially commercial business owners were adversely impacted, they are very appreciative of the project now that it is complete.
“City Council paid a price to buy the commercial right of way to put roundabouts in, but I believe the public demands it now,” Townsell said.
A roundabout landscaping committee was established in February with plans for future roundabout beautification. The city has plans to landscape each of the Prince Street roundabouts when funding sources can be identified, Townsell said.