Fayetteville Street Lanes Cut From 5 To 2 For Trail Project

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Motorists on a major Fayetteville street will see reduced lanes for the next month-and-a-half, as city workers install a tunnel under the roadway for a $1.4 million trail extension.

City engineer workers are set to begin construction Wednesday on Martin Luther King Boulevard, between Government Avenue and South School Avenue, reducing the number of available traffic lanes from five to two, according to the city’s engineering division. City engineers expect to complete the project by Sept. 1.

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."

The construction is set to shift lanes as the tunnel to extend the Frisco Trail is built.

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.

The project announcement comes as city leaders get ready to consider a $1.4 million contract for the construction phase of the trail extension. The Fayetteville City Council has the item on its regular meeting agenda for Tuesday night.

The one-half-mile extension’s design work began in March 2012. Most of the trail project money comes from the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission, according to the City Council's agenda item.