If you’ve ever attempted to cross Dave Ward Drive on foot you know it’s a daunting, almost impossible task. But not for long. A new, safe way for pedestrians to cross Dave Ward Drive is coming to Conway. It’s a huge relief for those who enjoy the Stone Dam Creek trail but; especially for UCA students who live across the highway from campus.
The city was recently awarded a grant worth more than one-million dollars to construct a pedestrian bridge. The grant is from Metroplan and the Arkansas Department of Transportation. It’s a matching grant, which means the city will need to pay twenty-percent of the grant amount.
Thirty-thousand vehicles drive Dave Ward Drive every day. There are only two pedestrian crossings near UCA and the new trail. One is at Donaghey, the other at Farris; both very busy intersections. Dustin Tackett, with Garver engineering consultants, is the project engineer. He says, “It’s a very dangerous situation right now with people crossing Dave Ward Drive.” The new bridge will be built near Andy’s Custard. It will accommodate both bicycles and foot traffic. It will also allow for further development south of the highway, both residential and commercial.
UCA is also pitching in money for the bridge; roughly three-hundred- thousand dollars. That’s because almost four-hundred-fifty students live in what’s called Bear Village, a new development south of Dave Ward Drive. Vice President for Finance and Administration, Diane Newton, says “This much needed pedestrian bridge will provide a safe and accessible path for these students coming to the main campus to attend classes, eat, and participate in any number of activities.”
Mayor Bart Castleberry is excited for how this bridge adds to the city’s trail system. “This adds connectivity to our existing trail system; and will eventually allow access to the technology park. It also enhances our standing as a bike friendly community. In addition, I look forward to the added safety this will provide to pedestrians,” Castleberry says.
The project is expected to cost roughly three-million dollars. Construction will begin this spring, with the bridge opening about one year from now.
Melissa Gates is the Communications Specialist for the city of Conway. For more information visit www.cityofconway.org or follow @thecityofconway on Twitter.