FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Northwest Arkansas’ population is booming and the roadways are struggling to keep up.
We all know the the pain of being in a hurry and having to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and unfortunately we’re running into this more often now in Northwest Arkansas.
“If you wake up and you’re stuck in traffic all morning, you’re just grouchy all day long and you’re kind of frustrated. So having a nice, smooth drive and having a nice route really makes all the difference,” said Lee Raney, a Northwest Arkansas resident.
The Northwest Arkansas Council President, Nelson Peacock, said along with bringing your mood down, traffic delays are bad for businesses in the area, as it causes a loss of productivity.
“Every bit of that adds up and we need to do everything we can to prevent that from happening,” said Peacock.
The Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission is conducting a study to look at the most congested areas and how to fix them. The study is the area’s updated Congestion Management Process.
Tim Conklin, the commission’s assistant director, said the study uses anonymous data from driver’s devices to see where cars are backed up most often. The data the commission is looking at is from 2019 before work and school moved online from the pandemic.
Conklin said the study validates what most drivers already recognize as the congested areas, but it lays it out for future planning.
“It’s really good to understand where we’re headed, and have a plan to get there,” said Peacock.
Conklin said the study has proven to work. Since the last Congestion Management Process in 2015, the planning commission has been able to work with other entities to push forward projects like widening I-49 from four lanes to six.
“So some of those areas that were identified as excessive delay have now been removed, but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Conklin.
Conklin said some of that work that we’ll see completed in the next five to ten years is the airport access road, segments of the 612 bypass, starting with the part heading west towards Tontitown, and the highway 112 corridor 18 miles from Fayetteville to Bentonville.
The Northwest Arkansas Planning Commission’s Congestion Management Process is up for public comment until May 20, then it’ll be considered for approval. You can find a link to the study’s draft here.