Construction to resume soon on Vista Place/O Street sidewalk

Vista Place apartments ELEXIS SMITH /THE ARKA TECH
Vista Place apartments ELEXIS SMITH /THE ARKA TECH
Vista Place apartments ELEXIS SMITH /THE ARKA TECH

The sidewalk project for O Street has transformed into a two-phase street renovation project. The 4-year idea has found bumps and curves with issues relating to sidewalk size, drainage and bike lanes and went from sidewalk project to street renovation project in January.

“The sidewalk project is still a go; however, the City of Russellville is in charge of moving the project forward,” said Brittny Daubenheyer, assistant to the president at Arkansas Tech University.

The project is currently in a slight holding pattern, Public Works Director and City Engineer Kurt Jones said.

After the relocation of sewer and waters lines, the city is in the process of executing the next contracts, allowing them to proceed with construction on the sidewalk. Construction should resume in approximately 10 to 14 days, and will then continue for an estimated 270 days before the completion of the project.

When it is finished, “it will be a complete street with vehicular travel lanes, bike lanes and sidewalks,” Jones said. The projected completion date will ensure the project is finished by the fall semester of 2017; however, if things proceed smoothly and construction is completed early, students could use the sidewalks from Vista Place as early as the end of the spring semester of 2017.

The O Street improvements were originally part of the City of Russellville Capital Improvement program, but when a town meeting was held in January of 2015 issues began to arise. At first residents were worried about the drainage issues becoming worse and the sidewalks coming too far into their yards.

The issue of the sidewalks and their size led to talks about a solution. The sidewalks were going to be 8 feet wide to be used by multi-use traffic, such as bicycles and pedestrians. The solution was the addition of a bike lane, which means the sidewalks can be made smaller, 5 feet, but the roads would have to be made wider, making the entire road need a rebuilding.

In January, the Street Renovation Project began and was designed to include three lanes; two main lanes and a turning lane, a bike lane on each side, a green space and a 6-foot sidewalk. Phase I, which includes “O Street until it hits the bridge,” will begin early this summer, Jones said. The sidewalk will go in front of Vista Place as originally intended in the sidewalk project.

The land used will come from Tech. The city will contract with Tech for a 99-year agreement for an easement, Jones said. The easement will declare Tech will still own the property, but the city has the right to “build a road, improve the road and maintain a road.”

“Normally with a private individual we would purchase an actual title to the property, we would own it,” Jones said. “In this case they [Tech] still owns the property.”

This includes the property that will be used for Phase II of the project that will extend Reasoner Street all the way around to connect with O Street.

This will create an entire loop that includes H Street, O Street and Reasoner Street, all of which will have been renovated due to this or previous projects.

Editor’s note: this article was featured in the print edition of The Arka Tech on September 8, 2016 with the headline “Next step for sidewalk project to begin”