Without fanfare, ribbon cutting or other flourishes, the city opened an improved and redirected College Avenue from Locust to Harkrider on Thursday afternoon.

By Friday morning, vehicles were moving swiftly on the new street.

To get College Avenue traffic out of the St. Joseph School campus and align and intersect with Harkrider, College Avenue was jogged over to the Elm Street right-of-way.

“College was pretty rugged between Locust and Harkrider and needed reconstruction anyway, so the council decided to relocate to the new intersection,” said City Engineer Ronnie Hall.

Elm Street that once dead-ended at the railroad tracks, now swoops around to the east, joining the new street and at that point, losing its identity, becoming College Avenue, as resolved by the City Council on Tuesday night.

The old College Avenue that traversed through St. Joseph Church and School property is now blocked off.

Students were walking down the middle of the old street on Friday, on their way to the gymnasium.

“A left turn lane on Harkrider at the existing College and at Sixth Street would have created a challenge because the two intersections are so close.

“By moving the College Street intersection farther away from Sixth Street, we could more readily create a left-turn lane and eventually a traffic signal,” Hall said.

Harkrider is a state highway, and when they enter into a project to improve Harkrider, they can more easily provide a left-turn lane and signal at the new College Avenue intersection, Hall said.

“That was the primary reason to relocate so it would fit better with the future of Harkrider,” Hall said. “As a sideline, it got the traffic out of the St. Joseph campus.”

In other actions related to maneuvering around Conway:

• There are new crossing arms and signal lights at the railroad crossing on Prairie Street. Previously there were only flashing lights.

• The railroad crossing at Deer Street is closed.

• The crossing at Davis Street will be closed. It could not be equipped with flashing lights or gates because of the way Union Pacific manages its traffic signals, Hall said.

• The crossing at Independence Street is closed.
“That crossing at the curve of Washington and Front Street has always been a hazard,” Hall said.

(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at becky.harris@thecabin.net and 505-1234.)