Rogers City Council supports joining plan to make roads safer

Rogers City Hall
(File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette)
Rogers City Hall (File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette)

ROGERS -- City leaders are backing a transportation plan and a grant application aimed at making streets and roads safer for everyone.

The City Council on Tuesday adopted resolutions approving a comprehensive safety action plan and authorizing officials to seek an implementation grant for the Safer Streets and Roads for All program. The Bentonville City Council considered similar measures Tuesday.

The actions are part of a regional push toward making roads safer for all, including motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. Earlier this month, the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission's Technical Advisory Committee recommended the comprehensive transportation safety plan that employs the Vision Zero traffic safety concept. Vision Zero seeks to eliminate fatal and serious injury crashes in 15 years with a systems approach to safety.

Ernie Boughman of Toole Design discussed Vision Zero and the comprehensive plan with the Transportation Committee before Tuesday's council meeting. The Vision Zero plan, from Boughman's perspective, stresses that safety efforts should involve all users.

In developing this plan, Toole Design examined regional data from 2017 to 2021, Boughman said. Regionally, there were 220 fatal crashes and 1,149 serious injury crashes during that period. Rogers' data show 22 fatal crashes and 127 severe injury crashes.

In discussing data for all vulnerable users and modes of transportation, Boughman pointed out that crashes involving pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists were only 3% of the total crashes regionally. However, they were a much larger percentage of the crashes that resulted in fatalities or serious injury (33%).

"That shows us we have a disproportionate amount of vulnerable users that are being affected by our system," he said.

John McCurdy, director of community development, noted the actions were supported by the planning team and the fire and police chiefs.

The Rogers council approved a resolution adopting the Vision Zero plan and a resolution authorizing seeking an implementation grant through the federal bipartisan infrastructure law. The total estimated cost for the work would be $25 million with the city paying 20%, or $5 million, and $20 million coming from the grant. The city's part of the project would be funded by current and future bond revenue and general reserve funds.

Work to be undertaken, if the grant is received, would include:

Develop or improve sidewalks along the east side of North Eighth Street between West New Hope and West Pleasant Grove roads

Develop a grade-separated pedestrian and bicycle crossing at the intersection of West Eighth Street and West Price Lane

Develop a grade-separated pedestrian and bicycle crossing at the intersection of West Walnut and West 28th streets

Develop or improve sidewalks along the north side of West Hudson Road between North Second and North 26th streets

Roads identified in the study as high priority were West Olive Street, West Walnut Street, South Eighth Street and South Dixieland Road.

In other business Tuesday, the council approved a budget change for the city's airport. The $25,000 would allow for additional engineering services. David Krutsch from the airport reported new hangar space has already been filled and accelerated demand requires the airport to begin site planning for additional hangars now.

The council approved changing the zoning designations and accepting the density concept plans for Dixieland Townhomes and Cottages at Magnolia Farms West. The Dixieland proposal rezoned 4.2 acres near the southwest corner of West Olrich Street and South Dixieland Road from neighborhood residential, agricultural and residential single-family to residential multifamily.

The Cottages at Magnolia Farms West site was rezoned from commercial with a planned unit development to uptown neighborhood transition.

The Cottages at Magnolia Farms East site was rezoned from residential-office with a planned unit development to uptown neighborhood transition. There was not a related density concept plan because it was not required.

Council member Betsy Reithemeyer raised concerns about the ability of the public to keep up to date on the two Magnolia Farms rezonings during the process. She was concerned that residents may not have been familiar with some changes in the plans, and she said she wants to ensure city procedures are transparent.

She voted for the rezoning ordinances but was against implementing the emergency clauses on the two Magnolia Farms rezonings. Other council members voted in favor of the rezonings and the emergency clauses. Council member Marge Wolf said she also shared Reithemeyer's desire for transparency.

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