Construction work is underway on a series of improvements to Archibald Yell Boulevard, just south of downtown Fayetteville.
Crews are currently at work on a redesign of the 5-way intersection of Archibald Yell at Rock Street and South College Avenue. Intersection points were closed in early July and aren’t expected to reopen until the work is completed sometime in early 2023.
The intersection overhaul includes adding a dedicated left-turn lane for southbound traffic headed east onto Rock Street. A second left-turn lane is included farther south for traffic turning onto South College Avenue. The current intersection does not include any dedicated turn lanes.
A landscape island will separate the two left-turn options and provide some pedestrian refuge for people crossing Archibald Yell, said City Engineer Chris Brown.
“We really think this will be a nice safety improvement,” said Brown. “We do have a lot of accidents there.”
The multi-phase project also includes reducing Archibald Yell from four lanes to three lanes, and adding a traffic signal and pedestrian crossing at South Street. A striped buffer on the north side of the road will separate vehicles from people who are walking or riding bikes.
The four-lane boulevard cuts through the historical grid of streets located south and east of Fayetteville’s downtown square, but officials said its current format encourages high speeds and is a barrier to pedestrians wanting to cross the street from the neighborhoods to the south and east to destinations around the square and entertainment district.
Brown said a 2020 traffic study determined that the corridor could benefit from a lane reduction, which is often referred to as a “road diet.”
“We know that there are people who don’t believe that a road diet is the appropriate treatment here,” said Brown. “I feel strongly that it is and that the traffic analysis proves that.”
The City Council in May approved a $2.99 million contract with Benchmark Construction of NWA, Inc. for the project. Funding comes from the transportation bond issue that voters approved in 2019, along with about $300,000 from the city’s water and sewer fund.
Beginning in June, Archibald Yell will be officially known as Nelson Hackett Boulevard. The City Council in September voted to rename the street in honor Hackett, an enslaved man who fled Fayetteville in 1841 in search of freedom.