The Arkansas Department of Transportation is conducting a connection improvement study around Highway 64 and Highway 65 and invited the community to give feedback during a public meeting Thursday at the Conway Expo Center and Fairgrounds.

The study was requested by the city of Conway to determine the need and feasibility of an improved connection between the two highways.

Finley Vinson, director of the street and engineering department, said a study was originally done in 2004 but results from that are outdated and new research needed to be conducted.

Through the results that come from this study, he said, he hopes a route can be identified and selected to ensure feasibility in the future.

“This study will identify potential locations for a future roadway between Highway 65 [Oak Street] and Highway 65 [Skyline Drive],” ArDOT Public Information Officer Danny Straessle, said. “This will allow local and state officials to consider the route in future planning decisions.”

As to who will fund the roadway, he said, that has not been determined.

Straessle said no direct connection currently exists that allows motorists to get across without going out of their way to go between the routes.

“Highway 65, in Faulkner County, is classified as a principal arterial and is part of the National Highway System,” ArDOT officials said. “Regionally, it provides the most direct connection between the central Arkansas metropolitan area to much of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri.”

While 65 locally serves as the primary commute route between Conway and communities to the north, officials said, Highway 64 serves traffic from Interstate 40 directly to the east.

“Due to a lack of connectivity between the two routes, most motorists traveling along Highway 65 from the north must travel through the [Interstate 40] interchange to ultimately travel south to the metropolitan area, likely resulting in indirection, longer travel times and delay,” officials said.

Straessle said no route has been identified but the study will start by considering those motorists and their travel directions to identity those alternatives that will provide connection while limiting impact to current developments and overall cost.

“The study team will consider traffic patterns, as well as existing constraints,” he said. “This will be used to identify potential roadway locations [and] the information received at Thursday’s meeting will be important in this work.”

During the meeting, attendees were encouraged to write their thoughts on notes and place them directly on the map on display.

Some suggested the routes be connected as close to Conway as possible while others mentioned connecting through Skunk Hollow Road. East German Lane was also considered but others noted safety concerns due to the location of local schools and problems with congestion.

“The participants provided valuable information concerning existing and planned developments, as well as travel patterns,” Straessle said. “This information will help us better respond to community concerns.”

He said the public is still welcome to provide comments by mail to Jon Hetzel, Garver 4701 Northshore Drive, North Little Rock, AR 72118, or by emailing PublicInvolvement@GarverUSA.com through Dec. 21.

The next public meeting to present potential locations for the new roadway will be held in mid-2019.

The improvements study is estimated to be complete in late 2019.