Construction is set to begin in January on a flyover bridge that will connect northbound College Avenue traffic to the Fulbright Expressway and shopping areas near the Northwest Arkansas Mall.
The long-awaited project will provide an alternative for northbound College Avenue drivers who normally make a U-turn at Joyce Boulevard to access the Fulbright Expressway.
Instead of a U-turn, drivers may take a left lane bridge that extends over southbound College Avenue traffic. Drivers can then head west on the Fulbright Expressway or exit into the Mall Avenue and Shiloh Drive area between Logan’s Roadhouse and Olive Garden.
Chris Brown, city engineer, said the flyover should reduce overall congestion and provide better access to restaurants and stores in the mall area.
Brown said Tuesday that recent traffic studies show 25 percent of left-lane drivers on College Avenue make a U-turn at Joyce Boulevard. During peak hours, that’s about 300-400 cars, he said.
Construction will require partial lane closures on College Avenue and the Fulbright Expressway for several months. Brown said some complete closures of the roadways will occur, but only late at night and only in intervals of about 30 minutes at a time.
Thanks to a 2006 federal earmark appropriation for the Fayetteville Expressway Economic Development Corridor, the $7.5 million project will only cost the city about $1.47 million.
The Street Committee on Tuesday approved three contracts related to the project.
Emery Sapp and Sons, Inc. will handle construction of the bridge and roadway improvements, Jacobs Engineering, Inc. will provide construction management and inspection services, and SourceGas, Inc. will relocate a gas main.
If the contracts are given final approval by the City Council later this month, the project should be complete by mid-2014.