#artraffic 032518

Today lets head on over to the greater Ozark area. Specifically, AR Hwy 352. There are 2 pieces of AR Hwy 352. The first piece is only in western Franklin County. It is only 1.1 miles running from Franklin County Road 441 to U.S. Hwy 64 west of Ozark. The second piece begins at AR Hwy 23, about 5 miles north of Ozark and runs east to U.S. Hwy 64 in Clarksville. Today we are going to zero in on a bridge structure that is at log mile 3.73 (if I’m reading the sign from Google Earth correctly). I don’t know the condition state of this bridge, but the alignment of the roadway here is poor. Taking the curve that this bridge is in at a speed higher than 25 mph is taking your life into your own hands. Back in the old days when state highways were being created, the roads curve and hug the contours of the land because the right of way was hard to obtain. The roads were built according to the path of least resistance. This highway we are talking about today is a perfect example of that. I realize that this is more than likely a “low volume road” but this is still something that should be remedied. We spent how many dollars on that cable fence on the interstate? And if it saves one life it is worth it, this is the same thing. If realigning this roadway would save one life, it would be worth it. So now the question becomes, how do we fix it? Here is the curve and bridge I’m talking about:

bridge-at-lm-3-73-hwy-352.png

So how? If we tried to make this a project longer than 1/4 mile I believe we would run into problems. But what about this:

Bridge at LM 3.73 alignment

That is just right at 1000 feet. What we accomplish with this is we soften the curve. We’ve made the radius bigger in other words. Now obviously this is just a sketch drawing from Google Earth but this is the idea. I’m not saying “here ya go contractor X, have fun making this work”. Also I’d like to note that in the top picture, the map is oriented due north and in the bottom picture I oriented the map so I could come off the roadway alignment at a good angle to draw my proposed alignment. So this project could be right at 1000 feet, probably add at least 100 feet on either end to tie into the existing roadway better. 1200 feet still maintains being under 1/4 mile so we are good there. The existing bridge structure is something like 28 or 30 feet in length, its not a huge bridge. Maybe even a box culvert could be built as a replacement. That would be something to think about. One really nice thing about this project would be there are only 2 driveways on this 1000 foot stretch that would have to be maintained. One of them is a driveway to a gas well and the other driveway is a residential driveway. You would only have to clear trees on the north side of existing AR Hwy 352 also. The more I think about this, the more I believe this is something that can be accomplished in a small amount of time. This is a small project, but it would make AR Hwy 352 a safer highway.

Until next week

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#artraffic 031818

Today lets go to Clarksville. Have you dropped off or picked up your child from any of the Clarksville schools? If you have you understand, if you’ve ever been in slow moving traffic after a NASCAR race or concert or some event like that then you understand. Pretty much everyone has been or will be stuck in slow moving traffic. This traffic they’ve got on West Clark Road in front of Clarksville School District has to change. In an effort to help traffic keep moving, a roundabout was installed at the intersection of West Clark and Cline Road. This might have helped, except that half of a mile to the west, the road is completely shut down due to a structure being rebuilt. So basically there is only one way in, and one way out to drop off or pick up your kids from school. I haven’t even mentioned all the heartburn the employees of Hanes Brands, Inc. must have as well. All of this has to change. Lets circle back to the roundabout idea, please stop putting roundabouts in places that don’t really need them. I get that you want a solution to keep the flow of traffic moving, and they do that. I think a roundabout’s intention is to be placed in areas where more than 4 roads diverge at a single intersection. There aren’t too many of those around. I can think of two off the top of my head in Fort Smith and North Little Rock, and the North Little Rock one already has a huge roundabout. But if you really want to keep it I guess I can make it work with an idea. Why don’t we extend Cline Road to the south, over I-40, to a new intersection with Interstate Drive? This is what I’m talking about:

 

sCline Road Extension

That is only 1200 feet. Keep your roundabout if you just have to have it. Since this bridge is spanning the entirety of the interstate, it would have to be at least a 300 foot span bridge. We don’t need any ramps since this bridge would be less than 1000 feet away from the Crawford Street intersection with I-40 (Exit 57). Now what to do about that baseball field that’s in the way of our new road. Lets move the softball field to the baseball field’s location. This would free up more space for the administration or whatever else they might need to build there. Move the baseball field across Clark Road. They already wanted to move the high school over there. I don’t know whether or not they planned to use the land east or west of Cline Road, but there is plenty of room for a baseball field. This way the sports areas stay together. You might even have room to squeeze in more parking areas around this part of campus. Once they open West Clark to traffic, coupled with this project, that would give 4 points of entry and exit for traffic to come and go in this busy part of town.

 

Until next week

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#artraffic 031118

Since I have pivoted this blog into a transportation blog we have looked into a few areas around the Arkansas River Valley, I want to tie a few of those previous suggestions together. I mentioned widening out ALL of our U.S. Highways and I also mentioned the 5 phase project on Parkway Drive in Russellville. In that post I said I had an idea for the intersection of U.S. 64/AR 326/Parkway Drive. Today we are going to investigate that idea further. This intersection is not disjointed like some of the other intersections we have tackled. I’d like to call this an incomplete intersection.  Last week we got into what a cloverleaf would look like in the City of Dardanelle. I’d like to suggest the same thing for this intersection. The alignment is already in place, as is one of the exterior ramps (U.S. 64 – U.S. 64). I’ve always thought it was weird that U.S. 64 ramps off instead of going straight but honestly there wouldn’t be a point in realigning it to Parkway’s alignment. Now that ramp may have to be moved to fit everything in, but it’s already there so we use it in the design. Last week we discovered that a cloverleaf only requires 1 bridge. The bridge for this project should go over AR 326 from U.S. 64 (think from London) to Parkway. Now the thing about this project is it would have to tie into West Main all the way back at Austin Circle. So that would require us to improve the bridge that carries traffic over the railroad. The bridge is just past the existing U.S. 64 ramp. This bridge would need to be widened to 4 lanes (there is no reason to widen it to 5 lanes because there’s nowhere to turn into at this location). Below is a picture of where this project would be.artraffic 031118

See how a perfect cloverleaf would not work the way it would work in Dardanelle? I am still suggesting utilizing a cloverleaf style intersection, but it would not be the perfect cloverleaf that the one we proposed last week would be. Lets see if we can think about each path a vehicle would take on a new cloverleaf alignment. If you are travelling from U.S. 64 (think from London) to Parkway Dr. or vice versa, this is easy: just drive over the new bridge. If you are travelling from West Main (U.S. 64) to AR 326 or vice versa, this is also easy: just drive under the new bridge. If you are travelling from U.S. 64 (from London) to U.S. 64 (West Main) just take the ramp like you always have (it may be just slightly altered from an alignment standpoint). If you are travelling from AR 326 to U.S. 64 (towards London) there will be a new ramp built. This would be interesting to see if there is enough land to build the ramp, or would you have to infringe on the Bayou and put clean rock in up to the correct elevation for the new ramp, or would the ramp be built as a one lane bridge. Personally, I would elect not to infringe on the Bayou and build a bridge. If you are travelling from Parkway to AR 326 there will be a new ramp built, but the landscape here would change as well. The big Russellville sign would have to be moved back probably 35-40 feet at the very least. If you are travelling from U.S. 64 (West Main) to Parkway there would be a new ramp built. That ramp would have to start at the railroad bridge so we have enough room for the cloverleaf. In each cloverleaf you pass where you want to go, then get on the ramp and circle back to the route you want to take. This would allow for the free flow of traffic in this part of town. I believe we would have to keep the traffic signal at the West Main and Marina Road intersection. This would be a massive project, I’m not going pretend that it would be a breeze to drive through this while it was being constructed. If you decided to build the one lane ramp as a bridge you would have 3 bridge projects simultaneously being built within a thousand feet (as the crow flies) of each other. However, if this and even just the Parkway 5 phase project were completed then there would not be much, if any, traffic congestion on the west side of town.

 

Until next week

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#artraffic 030418

Today, lets go to Dardanelle. I’d like to point out the awkward AR Hwy 7/AR Hwy 22/AR Hwy 27 disjointed intersection. The reason I say “disjointed” is because AR Hwy 27 hits AR Hwy 7 a tenth of a mile south of where it should. AR Hwy 7 and AR Hwy 22 come together in a nice “T” intersection, but realigning AR Hwy 27 would make this a perfect cross intersection. AR Hwy 7 comes into AR Hwy 22 with 5 lanes from Russellville and heads toward Centerville with only 3. AR Hwy 22 begins at AR Hwy 7 as divided but that only lasts for about a quarter of a mile and AR Hwy 22 becomes a rural 2 lane highway. AR Hwy 27 is a also a rural 2 lane highway (except for some recent passing lane additions) from Dardanelle to Danville. So how do we fix this mess? I mentioned realigning AR Hwy 27. On its present route, there is a bridge structure (Smiley Bayou) about a quarter of a mile from AR Hwy 7. I think if you shoot AR Hwy 7 straight across toward the Smiley Bayou bridge, you would have the right alignment. The old AR Hwy 27 alignment from Smiley Bayou to AR Hwy 7 would be obliterated. This would leave us with a cross intersection that would be better for traffic flow and safety reasons. However, while we are here why don’t we try to really jazz this project up and make something that will stand the test of time. I’m proposing not only making this a cross intersection, I am proposing constructing a bridge. This would classify the new intersection as a “grade separated intersection”. This intersection, in my opinion, is a perfect candidate for a full cloverleaf. 1200px-Cloverleaf_interchange.svgIn this type of intersection, the full cloverleaf eliminates all crossing movement conflicts by the use of weaving sections (ramps). The cloverleaf design only requires the use of one bridge. The bridge alignment should be on the AR Hwy 7 – AR Hwy 22 alignment (think from Dardanelle to Ft. Smith alignment), which would cross over the AR Hwy 7 – AR Hwy 27 alignment (think from Russellville to Danville alignment). Looking at the picture, the bottom of the page to the top of the page would be the AR Hwy 7 – AR Hwy 22 alignment, and from right to left would be the AR Hwy 7 – AR Hwy 27 alignment. One snag I am having is what to do with Quay Street east of Hwy 7. I’ve considered making it a dead end, but that causes too many issues. I’ve also considered not allowing left turn either onto or coming from Quay Street, more issues there as well. The purpose of this project would be to alleviate all traffic congestion issues in this part of Dardanelle, so eliminating both traffic signals would be the ultimate goal. I believe the only way to truly solve this is to make this project be: AR Hwy 28 – AR Hwy 155. At approximately 1.30 miles, this project would widen the AR Hwy 7 – AR Hwy 22 portion to 5 lanes and that would allow for the eastern portion of Quay Street to be open. Doing this would also allow for the cloverleaf design at the new intersection to be accomplished easier. The right southbound lane would terminate at  AR Hwy 28 and be a de-facto right turn only lane for approximately 0.85 of a mile. The right northbound lane of AR Hwy 22 would terminate at Rock Street, another de-facto right turn only lane (it is kind of odd calling that the “northbound” lane since technically AR Hwy 22 is an east-west highway but geographically in this section it is in a northerly direction). Of course the entrances to Wal-Mart and every other business along this project would be tied in, that is a given. I believe this project would benefit the city of Dardanelle, Yell County, and the Arkansas River Valley region.

 

Until next week

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#artraffic 022518

Today lets go to Russellville (the 15th largest city in the state). I want to take a look at Parkway Drive, this road is not how it should be. Parkway is a shade over 5 miles long running from an intersection with U.S. Hwy 64 and AR Hwy 326 on its western terminus to an intersection with AR Hwy 331 on its eastern terminus. If you’ve ever drove it (which I have several times) you see that something is missing throughout most of the alignment. For most of Parkway there is no center turn lane. There is a small piece right in front of Russellville Junior High School that is for turning into the school, but that is about it. Parkway widens out for major intersections, which is actually a good thing when it comes to how we would tackle making this road what it should be. Because there are already places to tie into that are already 5 lanes, we can make this happen in phases instead of giving the public heartburn by having a 5 mile long construction site. I have an idea for the intersection of U.S. Hwy 64/AR Hwy 326/Parkway so we could start the Parkway widening about 500 feet away from that intersection. This first phase should run from that point to the intersection with Phoenix Ave, a distance of only approximately 1.75 miles. About 1/2 of a mile is already 5 lanes, that section would need to be milled and inlayed and restriped to have a center turn lane throughout. Phase 2 would begin at Phoenix and continue to AR Hwy 7, a distance of approximately 1 mile. The first 1/4 of this phase is already at 5 lanes, so just like in the previous phase we would need only to mill-inlay-restripe that piece. Just after El Pase Ave there is a structure with an approximate span length of 46 feet that must be widened, adding to the difficulty.  The second phase should all be 5 lane with curb and gutter, and sidewalks with the curb and gutter. Phase 1 doesn’t necessarily have to be that. If a no curb and gutter design was selected for Phase 1, then it would have to have large shoulders, maybe curb and gutter all the way is what is necessary. All the phases except for Phase 1 should be mandatory curb and gutter with sidewalks, this is a busy part of town. Phase 3 begins at AR Hwy 7 and continues to Knoxville Avenue, a distance of only 0.75 miles. This would probably be the worst section to construct (traffic control wise). This section also has an approximate 25 foot span that must be widened, adding to the total project difficulty.  Phase 4 begins at Knoxville Ave and continues to Weir Road (which is either AR Hwy 124 or AR Hwy 326, I’m still not 100% sure). The distance for this phases is only 0.80 miles. This phase, like the previous two, has a bridge length structure that would need to be widened, the span of this structure is about 85 feet. Something would have to be done about the huge drainage ditch on the south side of Parkway that runs from that bridge to Weir Rd, one option would be to add the additional lane on just the north side of Parkway and not mess with it, that could be the best option.  The last phase, Phase 5, would run from Weir Rd to AR Hwy 331, a distance of approximately 0.76 miles. From Elmira (which is about halfway through the distance of this phase) Parkway is only 3 lanes wide to AR Hwy 331. The footprint of this phase would be difficult to construct, given all the land acquisition that would need to happen before. Also, moving utilities might prove to be a beast as well, so keep that in mind. Keeping these phases smaller, like I tried to do with 4 being under 1 mile long, would help the psyche of the public as they passed through. The good news is there is plenty of room to make a 5 lane road without having to tear down buildings, so lets get this done. 

Until next week

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#artraffic 021818

Major news on the I-69 front this week from ARDOT, they are investigating an alternate option. This option would construct the route from the portion of the  Monticello Bypass that is already built to Hwy 65 instead of constructing the remaining Western portion of the Monticello Bypass. Do you know that in the future Arkansas will have 3 new interstates? I-49 will run from Texarkana to Bella Vista along the western counties, I-57 will run along the 67/167 corridor from Little Rock to Southeastern Missouri, and I-69 will run generally from Shreveport, LA to El Dorado and continue through the southern counties into Mississippi. We as Arkansans need all this construction to happen. This is an opportunity to say that “Arkansas is open for business”. All the companies that pass us up in favor of other states will have to deal with more maintenance on their trucking companies because the states they choose will have poorer roads than we’re gonna have. There is also an I-530 extension to I-69 west of Monticello that is planned to be constructed as well. Arkansas would be more connected than its ever been to the rest of the continental 48. We need more however, we need our U.S. highways to be upgraded to 4 lanes and either a grass or paved median. In urban areas this would be a center turn lane. If we are going to have all this freight moving throughout our state then our interstate system is going to be overloaded with semi trucks and the like. Even in the River Valley where U.S. 64 runs closely to I-40. If U.S. 64 was 4 lanes all the way from Fort Smith to Beebe then I argue that local traffic would use it more. I know I would. These little towns that get flown by at 75 MPH a day would benefit as well. Instead of not even being considered by the traveler, they would have to be considered by someone driving right through the heart of town. I’m talking about little towns like Dyer, Mulberry, Altus, Coal Hill, Hartman, Knoxville, London, Plumerville, and Menifee. We as citizens voted for the CAP program, I’d vote for it again if it meant ALL of our U.S. Highways in the state were going to be upgraded. I realize that is a lot of work, we have 20 U.S. Highways in the state: 49, 59, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 67, 70, 71, 79, 82, 165, 167, 270, 271, 278, 371, 412, & 425. Not to mention the many spurs that branch off of each route. I am only arguing that initially the main U.S. Highway alignments be upgraded. We can get to the spurs after. Now a lot of these are already 4 lanes. Some of these are in the process of being upgraded to 4 lanes. The CAP was a billion dollar undertaking for highway construction and I’m willing to bet the citizens of Arkansas would be willing to vote for a 2 billion dollar CAP next time. I would. Whatever upgrades our roads to the best is what I’m in favor of. Think about all the job creation that would happen if we had this goal: finishing our interstate system and upgrading all U.S. Highways to 4 lanes in the next 20 years.

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#artraffic 021118

*Update*

Last week I touched on the intersection of US Hwy 64/AR Hwy 21/Palmer Rd in Clarksville. I mentioned that I thought there may be a petition at the Motion Fuels station. There isn’t. They are just encouraging the masses to call Representative Aaron Pilkington in Arkansas’ state congress. They also told me that Mayor Simpson is trying to get the ball rolling on fixing the intersection as well. That’s all the news I have on that.

This week let’s go to Morrilton. If you have ever been to Morrilton you have probably travelled on AR Hwy 9. AR Hwy 9 is separated into 2 segments. The first one’s southern terminus is with US Hwy 79 in Eagle Mills and its northern terminus is with US Hwy 67 & 270b in Malvern. The second segment’s southern terminus is with AR Hwy 5 in Crows and its northern terminus is with US Hwy 63 in Mammoth Spring. I have long wondered why this highway isn’t all the way connected but that is for another time. If you’re travelling north through Morrilton and you hit the intersection with Interstate 40 you are put in quite the predicament. There has been a lot of work done on the south side of the I-40 intersection. They have installed a new signal light at the AR Hwy 9b intersection and resurfaced and restriped the roadway back in 2014. That is not where the problem is, once you get past the ramps south of the I-40 bridge, you only have two lanes to travel on. Once you cross the bridge there is a left turn lane, but still we have not gotten to the issue yet. Try to turn left onto the on-ramp headed west on a busy day. This is a challenging proposition for the driver. The reason is there is no arrow light to protect the left turn. Why? The length of the left turn lane is only 100 feet roughly as well, what happens when several vehicles want to head west? Traffic jam is what happens. Of all places to have a traffic jam why Morrilton and why at  the interstate intersection? The good news is this won’t take a lot to fix. The bridge over I-40 is wide enough to accommodate 3 lanes, we could have a continuous center turn lane for about 1000 feet. That could be split in half: half for northbound AR Hwy 9 traffic wanting to go west on I-40 and the other half for southbound AR Hw 9 traffic wanting to go east on I-40. Then the only really other pressing issue is improve the signal light north of the I-40 bridge. I would imagine the reason this hasn’t happened yet is if there were 3 lanes installed then the width of the shoulders on the bridge wouldn’t be up to standards, which is also an issue. So without a major project to replace this bridge then the only thing to do in the meantime is upgrade that signal light. I think that would help tremendously and if the bridge ever gets widened that will be a bonus.

Until next week

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