The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is trying a second time to get federal funds to redesign University Avenue.
After applying for a U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant in 2015 but not being selected, UALR has revised its plan and will submit a new application this year.
"They received some favorable responses after their review [last year], so this is similar to their proposal last year," Little Rock City Manager Bruce Moore told the city Board of Directors last week.
The board gave its unanimous approval of the application.
The university has spearheaded the design of the proposed $14.5 million project. The grant application is due Friday, and an announcement is expected from the Department of Transportation this fall.
UALR's proposal covers Phase 1 of what would be a long-term project.
"In Phase 1, TIGER funds will be used to change University Avenue from an auto-centric, unattractive roadway dominated by aging strip centers on the west, into a pedestrian-friendly vibrant urban environment that promotes the safety, health and well-being, equity and opportunity, and economic vitality of the area," said Joni Lee, the university's chief government relations officer.
Phase 1 proposes to redesign South University Avenue from West 28th Street to Asher Avenue, with some work extending past each of those intersections.
Lee said the design hasn't significantly changed from last year's application, though a formerly proposed roundabout at 28th Street has been removed.
The new plan also puts more emphasis on the intersection at Asher Avenue and Colonel Glenn Road.
"With the developments occurring in and around that intersection, this year's application focuses on this intersection as one of the top priorities for redevelopment," Lee said.
The basis behind the redesign is the thought that University Avenue isn't safe enough for the students, faculty, staff members and visitors who cross it every day.
Before last year's application, UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson said: "What we've got is a speedway that was built in 1957 and has had relatively little done to it since then. In some respects, it's in a state of disrepair. University Avenue is unsafe. It's an eyesore, and it depresses economic activity in the area."
The grant application requests $9.5 million in federal funds and says it will get $5 million in local matching dollars. The city has committed $1.5 million of that match, and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department has allotted $600,000 for the project.
"We are still working on firming up the match commitments and don't have all the final amounts and documentation to announce at this point. We are working to get around $5 million, and it would be coming from different agencies that will include the city of Little Rock, state Highway Department, Central Arkansas Water and UALR," Lee said.
Work on the plan started at least four years ago.
The proposal -- called the University Avenue Complete Streets Corridor Revitalization Project -- calls for reducing the roadway from five lanes to four.
It would add a landscaped median, sidewalks, raised pedestrian crossings, bicycle lanes and improved bus accommodations. The east and west approaches at the Asher Avenue intersection would be re-shaped to improve vehicle operation and pedestrian safety there.
Lee called the street an "under-performing urban corridor" and said the plan would provide "a ladder of opportunity by fostering vitality and better connections for area residents to job and educational opportunities, while preserving vehicular traffic flows on this critical arterial."
Metro on 04/25/2016
Print Headline: UALR tries again for grant