City officials last week celebrated the start of a $4.6 million construction project on Van Asche Drive.
The in-house-designed project will realign and extend Van Asche from McGuire Street to Gregg Avenue, creating a straight connection from Garland Avenue to the shops and restaurants near the Northwest Arkansas Mall, an area surrounded by acres of undeveloped commercial land.
“This is an exciting day,” said Steve Clark, president and CEO of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, during a groundbreaking ceremony held Thursday at the southeast corner of Van Asche and Garland Avenue. “Within a matter of months, you’ll see improvements. Shortly after that, you’ll see notices of buildings being constructed and businesses being opened.”
Plans call for a four-lane boulevard with sidewalks on both sides of Van Asche, and a 10-foot-wide multiuse trail on the south side of the street. Van Asche will be widened to four lanes from Garland to McGuire. From there, a landscaped median will separate traffic on the new boulevard to Gregg Avenue. A left-turn lane is also planned at the Garland intersection.
The Van Asche improvements play a key role in Mayor Lioneld Jordan’s plan for a “box” of four-lane boulevards around the edges of the city to help motorists more easily travel through town. Jordan’s box idea also includes improvements to 15th Street, Crossover Road, Howard Nickell Road, Rupple Road and Zion Road.
“We started talking about this when I was on City Council in 2003,” Jordan, former chair of the council’s Transportation Committee, said Thursday. “By 2018, the whole loop around the city will be complete.”
The $4,587,250 construction contract was awarded to APAC-Central, Inc., and will be paid for with the third phase of the $65.9 million transportation bond program voters approved in 2006. The contract has allotted approximately 15 months for the contractor to complete and open the roadway to traffic.
Here’s a closer look at the plans: