At a quarterly meeting of the Faulkner County Leadership Institute, Brad Lacy, president of the Conway Development Corporation, announced about $40 million in advocated road developments for the county that may potentially benefit business sectors of Conway and the surrounding area.

“People want new roads and streets,” Lacy said. “And the city said O.K. We’ve developed enough advocates that people feel they’ve had enough buy in to support it.”

The two projects at the forefront of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce’s and CDC’s minds, Lacy said, are the addition of a new southern Conway interchange, and the relocation of Highway 25.

Both projects, Jamie Gates, vice president of government affairs for the CDC said, would be funded in a partnership between the state, city and county.

The southern Conway interchange is set for mile 132 on Interstate 40 and will cost between 28 and $30 million, Gates said.
“We are currently pursuing federal participation,” Gates said. “We’d like to see this interchange beginning later this year or 2011.”

Lacy said the addition of an interchange in southern Conway will give direct access into the Meadows Technology Park, the location of Hewlett-Packard, and the southern part of the city.
“This should impact development throughout the southern part of town,” Lacy said.

Lacy said the southern part of Conway is likely to see the most development as the city grows.

“There’s a lot of property there. We anticipate growth in the technology park and those businesses will benefit greatly from the interchange. For the first time we are getting ahead of a lot of our growth rather than trying to do something after the fact.”

Traffic being diverted from the Dave Ward Drive exit will ease the area’s congestion, and prolong the life of that road, Lacy said.

The relocation of Highway 25 is projected to begin in 2013, at a cost of 9 million city, state, county and hopefully federal dollars. If funds become available, Gates said, construction could begin earlier.

“That is when it’s scheduled but if we’re able to put the money together sooner we will try to do that. That would come in the form of federal aid.”

Gates said if federal money becomes available, an agreement has been made between the three parties to share in the benefit of any money that may be released for the project.

Highway 25 will now originate at the new Salem Road exit, number 123. The route, Gates said, will be a shorter, more direct and efficient roadway.

The highway is set to rejoin its existing route at the northwest corner of Beaverfork Lake.

“The current (highway) is seeing an increase in traffic, both commercial and residential. It’s seeing more truck traffic. It’s a winding road with a lot of incline,” Gates said. “With residential growth in Greenbrier and Wooster, and the activity of Fayetteville Shale, the highway needs to be built to a better standard. The best way to do that was to start it at a completely new location.”

Gates said the implementation of these projects was “a case of city and county working together.” 

“With Mayor Townsell and Judge Scroggin’s help, this is something we’ve made a priority, a legislative priority at the Chamber and the CDC.”

Another blueprint to look for in the next two years is the $36 million plan to widen Interstate 40 from four to six lanes from Highway 65 to the Faulkner and Pulaski County line.

“This is something the people in Faulkner County have felt strongly about but it wasn’t something that we had specifically been working on. Partly because it was already on the Highway Department’s radar,” Gates said.

Federal and state money will be used to complete the construction, beginning in 2012. 

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)