Plans for an improved connection to Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA) have cleared a hurdle needed to continue moving forward.
Airport officials this week received word that an environmental assessment of the project is complete and there are no barriers that would prevent construction of a new road between XNA and the Springdale Northern Bypass (Hwy. 612).
The new, four-lane highway would connect Hwy. 612 to Hwy. 264 near the entrance of XNA at Airport Boulevard (see map below). The road would include an interchange on Hwy. 612 west of Hwy. 112 where the highway currently ends. That extension of Hwy. 612 would be built first, followed by the new XNA Highway Access road.
The access road would not include any entrance or exit ramps, according to state documents. It would require overpasses at Wager Drive, Haden Road and Holmes Road. Once crossing over Holmes Road, traffic would be reduced to one lane in each direction, and the two-lane road would end at a new signalized intersection with Hwy. 264 and Airport Boulevard.
“This approved FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact report) is a monumental moment for connectivity in Northwest Arkansas,” said Aaron Burkes, CEO of XNA. “Continued progress on this new road is absolutely necessary for a safer and more reliable route to the airport for XNA passengers.”
The Arkansas Department of Transportation hosted an online meeting in October about the estimated $85.6 million project, and gathered public input into November.
The department has contracted with Garver Engineers to design the new road. Final designs should be ready by December, officials said.
About 247 acres of right of way are needed to complete the project. With FONSI approval, right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation can now begin. That process, which federal documents show could add up to $9 million to the overall cost, is expected to take between 12-18 months.
The access road is included in the projects set to be paid for with receipts from an extension of a half-cent sales tax that Arkansas voters approved in November 2020.