Fayetteville takes ownership of U.S. 71B from state

College Avenue / Flyer photo, Todd Gill

Fayetteville’s North College Avenue is no longer a state highway.

City Council members on Tuesday voted 7-0 to approve an agreement with the Arkansas Department of Transportation for the city to take ownership of U.S. 71B from the North Fulbright Expressway to the South Fulbright Expressway.

The road had doubled as a state-run highway, which meant the city had to get Department of Transportation approval before making any improvements, such as traffic signals, crosswalks or medians.

With full control of the road, the city can now do what it wants without seeking a permit and taking up staff time for the state department.

As part of the agreement, the state will give the city $1.5 million for improvements to College Avenue, which was an amount already dedicated to the roadway before the ownership transition.

The state will also spend around $12 million to widen Arkansas 112 and make some improvements to the stretch from Truckers Drive north to the city limits, however, that section of road will remain under state control.

City officials have said taking ownership of College Avenue will help expedite the city’s 71B Corridor Plan, which includes a reimagining of what the corridor could look like in the future as a safer stretch for both drivers and pedestrians.

Several council members on Tuesday said they’re excited about the change.

Sarah Marsh, a council member representative for Ward 1, said the state’s involvement has been a barrier that the city has had to hurdle every time it wants to make improvements.

Ward 2 Council Member Matthew Petty said the agreement could prove to be an even bigger catalyst for the revitalization of College Avenue than the Walton Arts Center provided for Dickson Street many years ago.

“Everyone in Fayetteville experiences College Avenue,” said Petty. “And now the city finally has a chance to make the road something to be proud of.”