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State seeks input on plan for MLK, I-49 interchange in Fayetteville

Meeting set for interchange plan by Ron Wood | June 11, 2022 at 1:02 a.m.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Department of Transportation has some new plans to show the public for a long-awaited interchange project in southwest Fayetteville.

The department will conduct an in-person public involvement meeting from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday regarding proposed improvements to the Interstate 49 interchange with Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The meeting will be held at the public library's Willard and Pat Walker Community Room, 401 W. Mountain St. in Fayetteville. Information about the project will also be available on the department's website beginning Tuesday when the links are activated.

Proposed improvements include additional lanes on I-49 and MLK and a new I-49 overpass at 15th Street, according to the department.

The area is congested during the morning and evening commutes because of continued development in west Fayetteville, Farmington, Prairie Grove and Lincoln. About 42,000 vehicles a day go through the area on MLK Boulevard just west of the interchange, according to department traffic counts.

By 2040, I-49 is projected to have some 84,000 cars a day in the area and the boulevard 62,000, according to regional planners.

Chris Brown, the city's director of public works, said the Transportation Department wants to get reaction to some new ideas it's come up with for the often-delayed project.

The city asked the department a couple of years ago to make some additions to the plan aimed at improving access to Kessler Mountain Regional Park and improve traffic flow in areas around the University of Arkansas' Baum Stadium and South Razorback Road. The city offered to pay part of the cost.

"The big piece of it is getting the two roundabouts and the additional connection down there at 15th Street. That has been incorporated into the plan," Brown said. "We're still discussing some of the bike and pedestrian connectivity through the interchange and trying to get some of our trail network connected."

Brown said there are some proposed tunnels and side paths for which details are still being worked out.

In April 2018, state officials changed their plans, going from a conventional interchange to a single-point urban interchange design.

Brown said department studies show the actual bottleneck is west of the interchange around the Walmart store on MLK and the traffic signal at Finger Road.

"They're actually looking at extending some of the widening further to the west to try to help with that traffic," Brown said.

That change could affect more properties in the area, he said.

"It's hopefully a step forward toward construction. It's been several years," Brown said. "I think 2017 was the initial public meetings on that, the initial concepts that didn't work out."


Print Headline: Public’s input on project wanted

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