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KJW

The WestBenCo conundrum

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map.jpg

- Do you build the western bypass sooner or later?

- Do you acquire expensive land now, or wait 'til it possibly corrects (to the cheaper) in value?

- If so, how long do you wait?

- What if said "correction" doesn't happen?

- If you wait, do these projects get delayed?

- If they don't delay, how, if any, does this change your bypass plan?

- Are there any maps of the proposed western Benton County bypass available for viewing on the World Wide Web?

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Hmmm...I'm not sure where exactly the route for the western bypass is. Itk might be able to point you to one. I bet it's around that general area you mentioned.

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Waaiit... "New Highfill dev"? When was that anounced? I haven't heard about that one. At least, nothing that wasn't just far-off rumor.

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Hmmm...I'm not sure where exactly the route for the western bypass is. Itk might be able to point you to one. I bet it's around that general area you mentioned.

That's because there is no route. It's all just conceived as something conceptual right now, nothing more. The next step would have to be a study to look at more details.

The only thing I know on the web showing a broad corridor where it has been conceived is from the NWARPC website. It is from their Long Range Plan, but it's a pdf. Here's the link:

http://www.nwarpc.com/Maps/2030_PROPOSED_NETWORK.pdf

I guess if I was more computer savvy I could figure out a way to make it a raster image file and imbed it in this post.

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That's because there is no route. It's all just conceived as something conceptual right now, nothing more. The next step would have to be a study to look at more details.

The only thing I know on the web showing a broad corridor where it has been conceived is from the NWARPC website. It is from their Long Range Plan, but it's a pdf. Here's the link:

http://www.nwarpc.com/Maps/2030_PROPOSED_NETWORK.pdf

I guess if I was more computer savvy I could figure out a way to make it a raster image file and imbed it in this post.

Yeah there we go. I didn't think there was an exact route but I knew there was a broad area that were it was planned.

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The only thing that they should have done differint is put the Fairgrounds off the interstate. I'm guessing that this is about 3-5 miles away from it. Although it is nice to have all of these entertainment venues all together, it creates like a metroplex of entertainment IMO.

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I don't know if those questions were meant to be rhetorical, but those issues have definitely been brought up many times recently in NWA. Particularly, that the western bypass needs to be looked at ASAP, and land for ROW needs to be purchased ASAP.

Is land value going up, and spreading westward in Benton County? Sure. Would it be ideal to secure land ASAP? Absolutely. But realistically, here is an even greater conundrum facing NWA-- do we spend X amount of dollars (tens of millions $) to purchase ROW for such and such new location project, or do we spend that X amount for construction that is needed desperately to relieve congestion somewhere else in NWA? That's a tough question (ultimately made by people with higher pay rates than me), and I don't even know if there's a "right" answer. I think there's a balance somewhere in the middle.

Politically speaking, purchasing all the ROW for all new location projects in NWA probably wouldn't be smart I think if we're talking about a sizable chunk of the budget, since people tend to "see" progress (in the transportation sense) by what's under construction. No one hardly notices land being purchased for a new highway.

Here's what I think is a possible scenario in my opinion. Funds get secured one way or another for a planning study in the next few years to determine the feasibility of a western bypass and the possible corridor(s). The study takes several years to undertake. It's determined that a bypass is feasible. It goes on to environmental handling, where a study will be undertaken to look at detailed alternative alignments and choose a preferred alignment. This takes several more years (at least, depending on environmentaly sensitive issues, public opposition, etc.). Once this is chosen, design can begin, which can take some more years, and ROW can be purchased.

What governs the speed of when construction can begin after that I think will be determined by how much $ there is. For a project this scale I think it's too early to speculate. Like in all cases, money makes the world go 'round, so I garauntee if there was a lot of $ today secured just for this, it would move forward as soon as possible. But, as stated in the NARTS 2030 Long Range Plan, we're talking about roughly $400,000,000 (which, IMO, will be higher when it's all said and done). Even if we could buy ROW and build it today, that alone would eat up AHTD's entire state budget.

So here's what I say to people who are worried about this. Wait until the planning study is done. Since there's so much talk and pressure about this concept, I'm confident a study will be undertaken in the near future. If it is found feasible, which I think most likely will, then an environmental study will be undertaken. Depending on the result of that, a preferred alignment may be chosen. In which case, political and public forces will help determine when it gets built in one capacity or another, depending on their priorities, because in all honesty it will be such an expensive and large project that it will need a lot of support, among other things, to be made a reality.

I don't know if that was helpful or not. But it's one of those things where you're sort of damned if you and damned if you don't, because people in Benton County want a western bypass, but other people in Springdale want a 412 bypass, while other people want a light rail system, etc., etc., it never ends. Fortunately, I think there are many competent and smart people in the right places to make good planning decisions like this in NWA. It just takes awhile to see the fruits of their labor.

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I don't know if those questions were meant to be rhetorical, but those issues have definitely been brought up many times recently in NWA. Particularly, that the western bypass needs to be looked at ASAP, and land for ROW needs to be purchased ASAP.

Is land value going up, and spreading westward in Benton County? Sure. Would it be ideal to secure land ASAP? Absolutely. But realistically, here is an even greater conundrum facing NWA-- do we spend X amount of dollars (tens of millions $) to purchase ROW for such and such new location project, or do we spend that X amount for construction that is needed desperately to relieve congestion somewhere else in NWA? That's a tough question (ultimately made by people with higher pay rates than me), and I don't even know if there's a "right" answer. I think there's a balance somewhere in the middle.

Politically speaking, purchasing all the ROW for all new location projects in NWA probably wouldn't be smart I think if we're talking about a sizable chunk of the budget, since people tend to "see" progress (in the transportation sense) by what's under construction. No one hardly notices land being purchased for a new highway.

Here's what I think is a possible scenario in my opinion. Funds get secured one way or another for a planning study in the next few years to determine the feasibility of a western bypass and the possible corridor(s). The study takes several years to undertake. It's determined that a bypass is feasible. It goes on to environmental handling, where a study will be undertaken to look at detailed alternative alignments and choose a preferred alignment. This takes several more years (at least, depending on environmentaly sensitive issues, public opposition, etc.). Once this is chosen, design can begin, which can take some more years, and ROW can be purchased.

What governs the speed of when construction can begin after that I think will be determined by how much $ there is. For a project this scale I think it's too early to speculate. Like in all cases, money makes the world go 'round, so I garauntee if there was a lot of $ today secured just for this, it would move forward as soon as possible. But, as stated in the NARTS 2030 Long Range Plan, we're talking about roughly $400,000,000 (which, IMO, will be higher when it's all said and done). Even if we could buy ROW and build it today, that alone would eat up AHTD's entire state budget.

So here's what I say to people who are worried about this. Wait until the planning study is done. Since there's so much talk and pressure about this concept, I'm confident a study will be undertaken in the near future. If it is found feasible, which I think most likely will, then an environmental study will be undertaken. Depending on the result of that, a preferred alignment may be chosen. In which case, political and public forces will help determine when it gets built in one capacity or another, depending on their priorities, because in all honesty it will be such an expensive and large project that it will need a lot of support, among other things, to be made a reality.

I don't know if that was helpful or not. But it's one of those things where you're sort of damned if you and damned if you don't, because people in Benton County want a western bypass, but other people in Springdale want a 412 bypass, while other people want a light rail system, etc., etc., it never ends. Fortunately, I think there are many competent and smart people in the right places to make good planning decisions like this in NWA. It just takes awhile to see the fruits of their labor.

ITK,

Thanks...I think the thing that's most interesting is how all these things are "popping up" in a sort of line from Centerton on south...the "new town the size of Gravette or Pea Ridge" (Sorry I don't have a link to the web story on this, but it was in the BCR), the fairgrounds, the arena, XNA, the "14,000 person development in Highfill" (again, this was in the papers but a year or two ago...there are also new subdivisions being built east of Gentry and west of Highfill though I don't think on as grand of a scale).

The arena and XNA in particular, then the fairgrounds, are unique things which will draw folks from all over NWA (and possibly eastern Oklahoma and southwest Missouri) and, as such, are why I think (if they come to fruition) a need for more than a two lane, narrow shouldered highway will become evident. It's good to see your vote of confidence in the folks in place making decisions on this, which I share. I do think early planning on this has been a bit of crisis management, but I believe we've got a bit better idea of the big situation we're faced with now...

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I was wondering if the UA ever holds any concert or entertainment gatherings in the big basketball arena on campus.

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I was wondering if the UA ever holds any concert or entertainment gatherings in the big basketball arena on campus.

Not often, but it does happen. Usually, they try to use Barnhill Arena if at all possible. But things like the Wal-Mart shareholder's convention do happen there. I can't think of any concerts there though. The last concert on campus I can think of was in the Greek Theatre, which is actually a really nice venue for a small concert...

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The U of A used to host more concerts and such in the past but seem to have gotten away from it for a while now for some reason. Now it seems rather sporadic, but it does happen every once in a while.

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Trying to figure out where to put the highways in NWA gives me a headache, that's all I know.

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After reading some of these posts, something just occurred to me-- I can see the news reports in the future now: "Western Bypass further instigates and perpetuates sprawl in NWA according to local UA professor or some smarter-than-anyone-else-in-the-room guy..." Sweet...

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After reading some of these posts, something just occurred to me-- I can see the news reports in the future now: "Western Bypass further instigates and perpetuates sprawl in NWA according to local UA professor or some smarter-than-anyone-else-in-the-room guy..." Sweet...

I don't think having a western bypass would increase sprawl. I believe it's a good idea to plan for future growth by making a main thoroughfare around the metro instead of directly through the middle of it. All the best metros have a loop.

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