Fayetteville city leaders Tuesday night approved a $1.4 million contract to begin construction on the Frisco Trail, which would include a half-mile southern extension of the trail under Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard.
The construction of a tunnel for the trail under the street, set to begin Wednesday morning, will reduce the number of available lanes on Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard from five to two, according to the city’s engineering division. Workers expect to finish the project by Sept. 1.
Aldermen approved the contract unanimously at their regular monthly Fayetteville City Council meeting Tuesday night. Design work on the project began in March 2012, according to the City Council’s agenda item.
Some are not looking forward to the added construction and possible traffic slowdowns, while others argue the street and trail work is worth the inconvenience in the long term.
UA student Elaina Blando, 21, uses the trail almost daily. She said she’s looking forward to the tunnel.
“I think it sounds awesome,” Blando said. I would love to be able to use the trail further than it already is.”
The trail extension is part of the 36-mile Razorback Greenway trail system expected to run a continuous trail from southern Fayetteville to northern Bentonville.
“For driving it will probably be a little bit of a hassle, but hopefully it won’t last too long so that we can all get back on the road and bikers will be happy too,” Blando said.
Her friend Claire Basham, 20, said the short-term driving headache will be worth it.
“I feel like it’s one more construction thing but the end product will be worth it I think,” Basham said.
Joshua Wheeler, Roberts Auto Repair Manager, said lanes closures could affect the business that’s on the edge of the construction project.
“A good chunk of our traffic coming in here is drive-by traffic so if they reduce it down it could affect us,” Wheeler said.
Even though Wheeler said it might hurt the company’s pocket book, it can help prevent accidents in the long run.
“Just two weeks ago there was a gentlement that got hurt on the bicycle trying to just cross through an intersection,” Wheeler said. “We see people walking constantly so to have something detour and let people have another route than just crossing the main road will probably be a good benefit.”
Most of the trail project money comes from the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission, according to the City Council’s agenda item.