Gearhart Offers Alternative Plan for Temporary Construction Route Access
An alternative plan would temporarily allow construction-related traffic to access the Fayetteville campus’s historic core from Dickson Street rather than Arkansas Avenue.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart said Thursday he is considering an alternative plan that would temporarily allow construction-related traffic to access the Fayetteville campus’s historic core to perform more than $60 million worth of improvements to Ozark and Vol Walker halls.
Under the alternative plan, heavy trucks and related construction traffic would enter the university’s East Lawn along Dickson Street, opposite the new Nanoscale Material Science and Engineering Building. From that point, construction traffic would wend its way north and west between Ozark Hall and Old Main to the construction areas behind and adjacent to Ozark and Vol Walker halls.
This alternative would eliminate the previously planned route that would have allowed temporary construction traffic access to East Lawn from Arkansas Avenue, opposite Lafayette Street.
“This alternative reflects our reconsideration of elements we previously felt were undesirable,” Gearhart said. “As we planned the improvements to Ozark and Vol Walker halls, our primary concern was to maintain pedestrian and worker safety while protecting, to the greatest extent possible, the trees, sidewalks and character of East Lawn.
“Given the two buildings’ locations, we sought what we thought would be the most practical and acceptable approaches. However, after further discussion and with the benefit of public input, this new alternative better satisfies those multiple considerations.
“While not perfect, this new alternative route addresses much of the unease expressed about the Arkansas-Lafayette option,” Gearhart said. “The proposed Dickson Street access route would minimize the amount of heavy vehicular traffic that would occur on Lafayette Street under the original plan. It also would eliminate the need to remove temporarily a section of the East Lawn stone wall opposite the intersection of Arkansas and Lafayette to accommodate an access road.
“The alternative also minimizes the impact of the construction activity on East Lawn and on the view of Old Main as seen from Arkansas Avenue. These were the primary concerns expressed to us as we shared our plans with city leaders and the public.”
Gearhart noted that the new plan shifts, rather than eliminates, where East Lawn would be affected by the construction traffic.
“Like the original plan, the Dickson Street alternative would still impact East Lawn and the stone wall,” Gearhart said. “There is no way to avoid that. It will require the removal of the same number of small trees – two – and will require transplanting one or two trees more than in the original plan.
“This plan will require a wider-than-planned opening of the stone wall, albeit on Dickson Street, to accommodate the turns that large construction vehicles will have to make to access work sites. The Arkansas-Lafayette plan would have permitted a straight, direct entrance to East Lawn that would have lessened the number of stones to be removed and later replaced.
“The Dickson Street approach also affects more sections of Senior Walk than the Arkansas-Lafayette option would,” Gearhart said. “In either case, those sections of the walk will be covered with protective metal plates until the construction and renovations are completed. We are considering ways to maintain some form of ‘virtual’ access to those sections of Senior Walk that would be obscured during the construction period.”
As with the initial proposal, the temporary road on East Lawn would allow for two-way construction traffic under the new alternative. Traffic would become one-way prior to crossing Campus Drive, currently a pedestrian walkway, and would turn northward and pass in a one-way pattern between Vol Walker Hall and Mullins Library before passing between the Home Economics and Agriculture buildings. Construction traffic will exit onto Maple Street and will be restricted to right-turns only.
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