FAYETTEVILLE -- The "extension" portion of the Sain Street project is finished, but two more sections await completion.
The city recently opened an extension of Sain Street northeast to Vantage Drive to traffic. Construction began in March last year.
The 2,400-foot-long extension includes a 320-foot-long bridge over Mud Creek. Crossland Heavy Contractors of Columbus, Kan., and a local office in Lowell, submitted the lowest bid and was awarded a more than $4.3 million contract. Final construction cost was a little more than $5 million.
Federal aid paid for 80% of the project, with about $4 million in total aid and the city paying about $1 million. The city's portion came from a transportation bond issue voters approved in 2019.
Public Works Director Chris Brown said the extension has been on the city's plan for streets for many years. The idea is to provide an alternative east-west route that will help divert traffic from College Avenue and Joyce Boulevard, the city's busiest intersection, he said.
As part of the extension, the city installed a roundabout where Sain Street formerly dead-ended east of Front Street. The roundabout will eventually link an extension of Hemlock Avenue south to Millsap Avenue and, to the east, provide access to an apartment complex in development from Lindsey Management.
That extension of Hemlock Avenue to Millsap Road and an overhaul of the intersection with College Avenue and Millsap Road represent the other two pieces left in the larger project for the area. The city hopes to start construction on both projects at the same time, likely in early 2024, Brown said. Construction should wrap by the end of 2024 or early 2025, he said.
The city wants to add a second turn lane on Millsap Road for cars heading east to turn left onto North College Avenue. The right-turn lane to go south on College would remain, as would a single lane to stay on Millsap.
Cars heading west on Millsap would have their own left-turn lane to go south on College. The lanes on Millsap also would be realigned to match up both sides at the intersection.
"I think by making that east-west route more efficient, we can squeeze a little bit more green time out of the College Avenue north-south leg and make that traffic move a little better," Brown said.
The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville has its Uptown Campus immediately south of Sain Street. The three-building campus houses staff from business services, financial services, human resources, the registrar's office and a few other offices.
Michael White, associate vice chancellor for financial affairs at the university, said he and fellow employees have watched the Sain Street extension project progress. Getting in and out of the campus, depending on the time of day, can present a challenge, he said.
Having the ability to head east on Sain Street to Vantage Drive, which connects to Joyce Boulevard, enables White and his colleagues to bypass College Avenue when heading home, he said. The traffic light at Vantage Drive and Joyce Boulevard makes it far easier to head west onto Joyce Boulevard, White said. Trying to make the same move at Front Street and Joyce Boulevard is much more difficult because the street is closer to College Avenue and has no light, he said.
White said he welcomed the extension of Hemlock Avenue south to Millsap Road and the anticipated improvement to the Millsap Road and College Avenue intersection. It's nearly impossible to head west onto Millsap Road from Front Street in its current state, he said. Front Street lies only a few feet from the Millsap Road and College Avenue intersection, and cars line up there all the time, especially if a Razorback Transit bus also is traveling Front Street to get to Millsap Road, White said.
"Whenever they built the bypass back in the '70s or whenever it was, there wasn't any of this stuff out here. This whole end of town -- no one could have foreseen 50 years into the future that it was going to be grown up the way it is," he said. "Clearly, we have outgrown the infrastructure that we have around here. This is one thing that is going to improve the lives of a lot of people."
The city is looking into possibly dead-ending Front Street at Millsap Road once the other two improvements are made in order to get cars to use Hemlock Avenue instead, Brown said.
White and his colleagues could get a bunch of new neighbors soon. The Planning Commission on Monday will review a development plan for Lindsey's Trails on the Creek project, which aims to build 324 apartment units on about 10.5 acres south of Mud Creek and east of the university's Uptown Campus. Portions of the wooded area lie within a floodplain, and the project has drawn opposition from neighbors to the southeast.
Monday's meeting will mark the fourth time the commission has discussed the plan for the apartment project. Resident opposition has included concerns about potential impact to the environment and building within a floodplain, as well as traffic congestion and safety. A proposed trail running north-south between two neighborhoods to the south that is included in the city's master plan for trails also has drawn opposition.
On the web
For more information on Fayetteville’s Sain Street extension and other road projects in the city, go to: