Last week, after being contacted by several residents regarding the ongoing safety concerns at the intersection of Highway 5 and Bryant Parkway, the Bryant City Council called a special meeting to receive an update from our engineering department about this project. Several residents in attendance heard this information. Still, I thought this would be a good time to share what we discussed last night and ensure that everyone is aware of the work and discussion that has been conducted into moving some type of intersection improvement/safety plan forward for this intersection.
2017- Conversations with ARDOT and the City began regarding the building of Bryant Parkway and the intersection of Highway 5. ArDot requirements for intersection improvements with new street construction require the street construction to be complete before a traffic count analysis is conducted. This analysis is what will show that light is warranted.
2018- The road is constructed, and the intersection is open. The traffic count is complete, and light is shown to be warranted in the area. The city requested that intersection improvements be implemented.
2018- Bryant was notified that intersection improvements are planned for this area as part of the Highway 5 widening project, but it will be several years before it will be completed. We are also informed that the city may take on the design and cost of the improvements if we would like to move it forward on a quicker timeline.
2018- We submit a design for temporary signalization (similar to what is on Reynolds road at Hillfarm School). This will cost the city around $200,00.00 to construct.
2019- We receive a letter from ArDot stating the temporary signalization design submitted will not work and listed the adjustments needed for the design to be considered.
2019- Based requirements from ARDOT and the Highway 5 traffic study, the city, drew up a rough design for the improvements. These design changes, including a turning lane and additional widening, now place the project at over a million dollars, which the city needs to pay.
Following that, I mailed a letter to ArDOT stating the requirements they have for this intersection, and the cost of the project placed a hardship on the city and asked that they would either reconsider the timeline of their project or the decision to allow us to add temporary signalization to the intersection. Director Bennett responded that they would review the project again and get back with us. We were hopeful that information shared earlier this year, that this project was being moved forward with a possible timeline of 2022-2023 completion date would hold.
Over the course of the past few months, survey work has started in the area, showing that this project is moving forward. However, the timeline is now further out with the completion of improvements in this area to be more along the lines of 2024. This timeline is based on the assumption that current funding will remain as it is. If that changes after the election, this may be adjusted all together.
After following back up with ArDot, we also discovered that the (2nd) design we created based on Highway 5 traffic count is not a complete design. Because this state highway is the relief road for I-30 (so if the interstate is backed up, this is the road that traffic is diverted to), the improvements would need to be built to that traffic count. There would also need to be longer turning lanes and additional utility work.
This new information now places that project at 3.2 million dollars for us to take on.
The ArDOT design for the area is also incomplete. This means we would still need to wait on that to be completed on ArDOT’s timeline, or risk spending 3.2 million dollars and have the work we fund be torn up later because it did not line up correctly with the road improvement designs.
So what do we do?
The City of Bryant considers the Arkansas Department of Transportation a great partner in our community. While this information and timeline are not what we want to hear, we understand they have protocol and funding timelines that must remain consistent throughout the state for what they do to be effective and fair.
I am sending a letter today asking for ArDOT to review the latest traffic accident counts at this intersection and determine what intermediate accident mitigation measures that CAN be implemented until the final widened design is complete. We are requesting some type of high-visibility caution approach and a possible speed reduction to be considered in this area. Once they have reviewed the accident data, we hope that some kind of solution can be implemented to fit within their requirements and the city’s need for intervention in this area.
We will also be placing some additional cautionary signs along Bryant Parkway regarding the intersection, to match the measures ArDOT chooses to implement.
I would like to thank Senator Boozeman, State Senator Hammer, and the Bryant city council for their diligence and assistance in keeping this project a priority for our community. We will continue to update our residents as much as possible on any information regarding this and other projects throughout the city.