Fayetteville set to get its first roundabout

The uptown area of Fayetteville, otherwise known as the area around the Northwest Arkansas Mall, has grown a lot over the 37 years since the mall was built in 1972.

The growth of that area’s retail district has caused a need to address traffic concerns and connections between Gregg Avenue, the Fulbright Expressway, I-540, College and Joyce avenues.

In November 2006, local engineering firm Carter and Burgess completed a study on the area surrounding the Fulbright Expressway near the Northwest Arkansas Mall, (the FEEDC or Fayetteville Expressway Economic Development Corridor), and when the final recommendations were presented in 2007, three projects were proposed to begin un-tangling the traffic issues in the area, one of which will result in Fayetteville’s first roundabout.

Roundabout at Futrall/Millsap/Northhills

The roundabout will be constructed at the intersection of Futrall Drive/Millsap Road, and Northhills Boulevard, near Washington Regional Medical Center.

City planner Jeremy Pate said the project is on track.

“It’s a fully-funded project and it is going forward,” Pate said. “We are a little past 50 percent design-complete right now.”

City staff reviewed the project on Monday during the Street Committee meeting, and design is expected to be complete by the first part of 2010. Construction is set to begin in the middle of next year.

Roundabouts don’t require stoplights and are intended to keep traffic flow moving while reducing waiting time for motorists. Pate said a roundabout at this intersection makes the most sense.

“In this case we have an off-ramp, an on-ramp, a hospital that employs a lot of people, and a great deal of traffic coming into this intersection,” he said. “A lot of traffic studies have indicated that a roundabout with continuous movement is the most efficient manner in moving traffic in a situation like this.”

Some other advantages to roundabouts are that they are generally considered to be safer than conventional intersections, as accidents that do occur in roundabouts generally happen at slower speeds and slighter angles.

Flyover bridge at College Ave.

More improvements identified in the FEEDC are scheduled to begin over the next two years, the largest being a flyover bridge from College Avenue to the Fulbright Expressway. Another project would connect Gregg Avenue to Hwy. 112 with an extension and re-alignment of Van Asche Drive.

The flyover bridge isn’t scheduled to begin construction until early- to mid-2011, and the Van Asche extension is in the very early planning stages. The combination of the three projects – once complete – will go a long way in correcting some of the challenges with getting around in north Fayetteville.

What do you guys think about a roundabout in Fayetteville? Can Fayetteville drivers adapt to a new kind of intersection in town?