The cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock are continuing to work out details with Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines about how traffic patterns will be impacted once the new Broadway Bridge gets built.
Officials from the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, Garver Engineering, Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Pulaski County are still not sure where traffic will be rerouted during the construction phase, according to Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines.
“We will see how we can help facilitate traffic patterns during the 18-24 months of construction,” said Villines.
While specifics are not known right now, Villines said he suspects where a significant amount of the traffic will be re-routed.
“Most of it, I think, will be routed over to the Main Street Bridge,” Villines said. “You got 25,000 cars a day on the Broadway Bridge, mostly on rush hour.”
Villines said the Main Street Bridge has the capacity of 35,000 vehicles per day.
“It gets 10,000 a day,” Villines said.
Villines said the use of the Main Street Bridge would pose some traffic hassles because its traffic signals currently aren’t synchronized which can increase vehicular slowdowns. Villines said he has talked with some Little Rock-North Little Rock motorists to help gather information about how traffic patterns can be negatively impacted the least.
“I think the two cities and the Highway Department will work hard to make sure traffic moves as efficiently as possible,” Villines said.
Villines said he believes the project won’t get started until the start of 2014.
“When is the exact date when the bridge will close?” said Villines said. “I do not know. Sometime, I would guess, in the late first or second quarter of next year.”
The traffic patters of motorists will be changed depending upon which direction they are coming or going, according to Villines.
Motorists also have the option of the Interstate 30 Bridge or the Crystal Hill areas.
“Some people will go to work a little bit earlier or stay a little bit later,” Villines said.
Villines said the eventual alternate traffic route(s) would be better known once the public hearing/final design phases are complete for the Broadway Bridge.
“This should be completed by the late summer or September and then we will go out for bids. Then we will sign a contact hopefully right after the first of the year,” Villines said.
Danny E. Bradley, Chief of Staff for North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith, said North Little Rock continues monitoring the progress of the Broadway Bridge project.
“Planning continues,” Bradley said. “I’m not sure when the [Highway Department] will finalize the design plan after the public comment period that I think is now complete.”
Bradley added, “As to street closures, detours, and traffic flows, those plans are still in progress. Traffic engineers and police officials continue to work on routing plans and related activities. Once the construction timeline is complete, the traffic plans will be finalized and public notification of closures and re-routing will be made.”
Bradley said the timeline couldn’t be determined until the contractor’s work schedule is established.
“They may be able to do some preliminary work in advance of closure of the bridge,” Bradley said. “I think we are probably some months away from finalization and announcement. The plans will certainly minimize as much as possible the impact on our business community and inconvenience of the public.”