A CLOSER LOOK: do fast-food restaurants cause traffic delays?

A Closer Look

"When the traffic is so heavy, it's not fast-food"

Chick-fil-A, S. Walton Blvd., Bentonville, AR. (Photo NSosa). 6.22.2021.

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Placing a drive-through fast-food order may not be so fast because of the long traffic lines in Northwest Arkansas.

From Fayetteville to Bentonville to places in between, traffic coming to a halt in a driving lane is a common occurrence because of cars lined up to get to fast-food restaurants. For example, Chick-fil-A at 209 S. Walton Blvd. — and is also next door to McDonald’s.

Bentonville resident Carolina Sanchez. Prefers to park than wait in a car line at Chick-fil-A. (Photo: NSosa).

Bentonville resident Carolina Sanchez prefers to park her car at a business adjacent to Chick-fil-A because it’s easier to place and get her order. “I use an empty parking spot, to park, because it’s easier for me to get into the store when the line is long due to the traffic,” said Sanchez.

It takes longer to get in when traffic is so heavy — then it’s not fast-food. “It takes a long time to get in there and that’s why I pick it up.”

Often, Sanchez finds herself slamming on the brakes along Walton Blvd. because of the traffic line. “Also, trying to get into any of the little business here, you’ll be stuck in traffic for where ever you’re going in this general area.”

The city of Bentonville is aware of the danger the traffic delays can cause.

Chick-fil-A. S. Walton Blvd., Bentonville, AR. (Photo: NSosa)

We recognize this is a concern but currently, we do not have an infrastructure plan to mitigate the traffic congestion during peak business hours for this area.

One of the main causes of accidents in any area is making a left turn from a private drive. When individuals make a left turn from a private drive that is also accompanied by traffic congestion, many times they are unable to see traffic approaching which makes turning unsafe.

We encourage individuals to practice safe driving which in many cases may include taking an alternate route to prevent a blind left turn.

Due to the traffic congestion, especially in the outside northbound lane of traffic leading up to the business, we also see individuals merge into the inside lane of traffic to continue to travel past the businesses in this area. Again, we recommend safe driving practices to avoid a collision. It is important to continually check your surroundings while driving especially when changing lanes. Many accidents can be avoided by using caution and practicing safe driving techniques.

Again, we recognize the concern for the area; however, there are areas in the city that see far greater traffic issues. These areas have been given priority for infrastructure planning due to the number of calls for service. As a city, we are continually working on solutions to ensure our residents and visitors can travel safely and effectively throughout our city. This is a situation we will continue to monitor to ensure the safety of everyone who travels through the area.

Bentonville Police Department Public Information Officer Adam McInnis


  • SE Walton Blvd. and SW Regional Airport Blvd., referred to as Rainbow Curve. “There are long queues in traffic which result in many rear-end accidents as well as several major accidents occurring when westbound traffic attempts to turn left onto SW Regional Airport Blvd. In a recent bond extension, there is a project planned to help mitigate this issue. In the proposed design, traffic turning left from SE Walton Blvd. onto SW Regional Airport Blvd. will take a “flyover bridge” which completely removes the need to turn left across traffic. An additional right- and left-turn lane will be added on SW Regional Airport Blvd. to help traffic move more efficiently which will assist with shortening the queues and hopefully resulting in fewer rear-end accidents.
  •  SW Regional Airport Blvd. and SW I Street. “This intersection sees long queues that extend over 1,500 feet and crash rates are higher than the statewide average on the northern leg. Currently, proposed plans include adding additional turn lanes on all sides as well as adding additional traffic lanes for east and west-bound traffic. The additional lanes will reduce the traffic queues by 75%.”
  • SE J Street and SE Walton Blvd. “Existing queues in this area are the 5th worst in the city and extend beyond 2,000 feet. This intersection is also in the top 10 for the number of vehicle crashes. To improve the safety of this intersection the proposed plans include dual left-turn lanes added to the northbound and southbound traffic turning onto SE Walton Blvd. as well as an additional northbound lane on Dodson Rd. (SE J St.). In this proposed plan there will also be a right turn only lane on Dodson road to turn east onto SE Walton Blvd.”

The city has more than 30 road improvement projects made possible through a bond extension, said McInnis. These proposals can be viewed at https://www.bentonvillebond.com/streets.


At 1369 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (MLK) is one of three Chick-fil-A restaurants in Fayetteville. Currently, this location is closed for remodeling as of June 10, 2021, and is expected to reopen in mid-August, according to a company Instagram post.

Fayetteville Police Sergeant Anthony Murphy said several complaints were made during COVID in regard to traffic backups in front of Chick-fil-A on MLK.

We spoke with the management and they were very receptive.

They were doing their best to keep traffic off the roadway, but with the lobby being closed due to COVID and people loving Chick-fil-A so much that they will sit in the middle of a state highway — there is really nothing we can do.

It would be the same as a UPS or a Fed Ex truck sitting in the middle of the road to make a delivery.

Ultimately it is on the individual vehicle operator, not the business owner. Once the lobby opened up the problem subsided. There were no accidents that I am aware of, but we did have several complaints.  

MLK is a state highway, we did reach out to the highway department, and at one point they were open to placing some signs in the area.

Fayetteville Police Department Sergeant Anthony Murphy

The Rogers Chick-fil-A has a recessed area of the outside traffic lane, and it appears it’s an effort to offset traffic backups. The “swell” is off of the two-lane road prior to reaching the establishment.

Chick-fil-A Rogers location on Pauline Whitaker Parkway.

There rarely are traffic delays at this location, not just because of the road, but there is more room surrounding the building for cars to wait until an order is placed.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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