Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Only 40 Years Late

Fayetteville, Arkansas recently announced plans to construct a flyover ramp from northbound College Ave (US 71B) to the Fulbright Expressway. This ramp will allow traffic to access I-540 without have to go through the Joyce Blvd "jughandle".

When the Fulbright Expressway was first built in the early 1970's, it was a 2-Lane bypass of US 71 around Fayetteville. It began on the south end of Fayetteville, about a mile north of the Fayetteville Airport (Drake Field), looped around the west side of town, re-intersecting US 71 apporximately 3/4 mile south of what is now the Northwest Arkansas Mall.  To go from northboud College Ave to southbound US 71, drivers used a "jughandle" turnoff at what is now Joyce Blvd. Drivers would turn right into the jughandle. left on Joyce Blvd, then south on College Ave. Why the flyover wasn't built originally, is anyone's guess.

In the intervening years, the area around College Ave and Joyce Blvd has overgrown commercially and become one the busiest intersections in the state. Using the "jughandle" to access Fulbright Expressway (now a 4-Lane divided road) is no longer viable given the amount of traffic in the area. 

So 40 years after it should have been built, the City of Fayetteville (NOT AHTD) is finally building a flyover, which should take some of the stress off the College & Joyce intersection and allow access to Mall least until the area overgrows again.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Improving I-540

AHTD recently announced plans to improve Interstate 540 between I-40 at Van Buren and Hwy 22 in Fort Smith. Plans call for widening the shoulders, reconstructing the pavement, reconstruction or renovation of nine bridges (including replacement of the Arkansas River Bridge) and replacing/upgrading existing exit signage (which, if you've driven I-540, you'll know how old and worn some of it looks). 

This will be the first major upgrade on I-540 since the road was originally opened in the mid 1960's, with the exception of the Kelly Highway and Phoenix Ave/Old Greenwood Road interchanges which were recently renovated (Kelly Highway in 2008, Phoenix Ave/Old Greenwood Rd in 2012).

According to AHTD, construction is expected to begin around Janoary 28th and is expected to take approximately 153 working days or a year and a half (until July 2014).  OK, just a minute: 153 working days or a year and a half?  This must be "new math". By my calculations, 153 working days would be just under 8 months. I can see allowing a little extra time for bad weather, but 153 days over a year and a half equals about 2 working days a week or 8 1/2 days per month. Is this right? Sure, 540 is is desperate need of renovation, but this timetable seems a bit off.

Another part of thir project will be renumbering the exits along I-540. Currently, they run from Exit 1 at Interstate 40 to Exit 14 at US 271/AR 253.  The proposal is to reverse the numbering to match the exit numbers on the Alma-Bentonville segment.  The "purist" in me disagrees with this.  Since I-540 begins at I-40, the exit numbers should begin at I-40. In a few years, the north leg of I-540 will be Interstate 49: will AHTD then renumber the exits on the south leg again?  What happens when 540 is extended to I-49 south of Fort Smith {proposed only: I've seen no timetable for this, only maps showing a proposed alignment beginning near Hwy 45 (Phoenix Ave/Old Greenwood Rd Interchange)}

This seems silly to me. Granted most of the exit signs need to be replaced, but why renumber the exits? 

Anyway, I have thrown together a quick guide with the old and new Exit numbers (or my best guess)


1 14
I-40 west – Oklahoma City, OK North 540 joins East 40
2 13
U.S. 64 – Van Buren Signed as Exits 2A (East) and 2B (West)
3 12
Hwy. 59 – Van Buren

Arkansas River Crawford/Sebastian County Line

5 10
Kelley Highway
6 9
Grand Avenue
8 7
Hwy. 22 Rogers Avenue Southbound numbered as 8A (West) and 8B (East)
9 6
 Phoenix Avenue East, Leigh Avenue 
10 5
Hwy. 45 Greenwood Road, Phoenix Avenue West
11 4
Hwy. 255 (Zero Street)
12 3
U.S. 71 South – Texarkana
13 2
Jenny Lind Road
14 1
U.S. 271 North / Hwy. 253 South I-540 Ends/Begins

US-271 continues west into Oklahoma

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

I'm Not Dead Yet

I'm getting better ;)

I've been down most of December with a bad cold. I brought one back from Kansas City, got over it, then picked up another one in Springfield over Christmas. So, I've not been on-line much and haven't had much opportunity for photos beyond a few random photos of I-49.  Hopefully, I can rectify this in the next few weeks, weather permitting.

So, yes, I'm way behind on the blog. I'm also behind on my new project (more on that another time).

By the way: I see someone has started using the term "Road Scholar" commercially. I've been using it since at least 2006 on misc.transport.road.  

In the meantime, I leave you with a photo of my latest acquisition:
This is the real thing: no  "replica" here. I got an "OK' deal on it. Not as good as I would have liked, but an "OK" deal.