Concept plans unveiled for improving Rolling Hills Drive safety
Rolling Hills Drive / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer
Members of the City Council Transportation Committee this week got their first look at the concept design of a series of safety upgrades along the Rolling Hills Drive corridor between College Avenue and Old Missouri Road.
The project is part of the 2019 voter-approved transport bond issuance. It includes a total overhaul of the road, with a focus on increasing pedestrian and cyclist safety in the area.
Rolling Hills Drive provides access to adjacent neighborhoods and helps connect the Razorback Greenway to Butterfield Elementary School. It is the only flat east-west cycle path leading to the city’s greenway. The road currently carries around 10,000 cars per day, according to city documents, so improving the corridor for traffic capacity and providing safe facilities for bicycles and pedestrians is a priority.
Garver Engineers’ Jeff Webb presented the proposed concept plans to the committee on Tuesday at the group’s regular monthly meeting.
Webb said that with the current road being so wide, designers were able to plan the project within the city’s existing right-of-way, with only a small amount of proposed acquisition at key intersections.
Sectional plans show a 10 foot wide taxiway in each direction with a central turning lane along most of the corridor. A 10 foot bike path is marked on the south side of the road, separated from the street by 6 feet of green space with street trees and lighting. On the north side, the existing 6-foot sidewalk and 4-foot green space would remain and would also include trees and lights.
Cross-section concept / Garver engineers, Town of Fayetteville
The intersections of Sheryl and Loxley avenues would be converted to mini-roundabouts to help slow traffic and provide some relief from rush hour traffic.
Pedestrian crossings are also planned along the route, some that cross Rolling Hills and others that cross side streets. A railway crossing near Market Avenue would include a rectangular rapid-flashing beacon (RFFB) and islets of refuge when traffic is too heavy near College Avenue for a safe crossing of the entire road.
Other design features include drainage improvements along the corridor and a realignment of the trail for the crossing at Old Missouri Road.
Webb said the mini-roundabouts would be similar to those on the University of Arkansas campus near Bud Walton Arena in that they would only be raised slightly to accommodate large trucks, buses and vehicles. urgently to cross them if necessary.
The side roads leading to each mini roundabout would be narrowed in an attempt to minimize right-of-way acquisition and try to save trees that would otherwise have to be removed for construction.
“We know the residents along Rolling Hills care about their trees, so we’ve taken that into consideration,” said Webb.
Council member Sarah Bunch, who represents the surrounding neighborhoods in Ward 3, said she was happy to see these steps taken.
“I really appreciate the effort to save as many trees as possible in this neighborhood,” Bunch said.
City engineer Chris Brown said Loxley’s mini roundabout might seem a bit odd at first glance, but his department suggested its oval shape since the intersection is staggered. A traditional round design would have required a larger piece of infrastructure and a considerable amount of additional right-of-way acquisitions.
Brown said now that the committee has seen the plans, the next step is to take another round of public comments before the designs are finalized.
The city first asked for ideas in November 2019 at a drop-in event at the Rolling Hills Baptist Church.
Input from that meeting, Brown said, helped shape the conceptual designs, including the mini-roundabouts. Still, he knows they will be controversial for some.
“We expect that when we take public comment again, the large amount of commentary will be related to the mini-roundabouts,” Brown said. “But that’s something the neighbors have asked for regarding reduced traffic and better access from side streets.”
Board member Matthew Petty, who chairs the committee, said he was excited about the plans.
“I like this idea and I think it’s a good concept,” said Petty. “I think it will be very much appreciated overall.”
After the next round of public comments, the committee will make a recommendation to the full board. If all goes according to plan, construction is expected to begin in 2023.
Complete concept plans
Download a larger version (PDF)
Download a larger version (PDF)