The need for a safer route at the intersection at Arkansas Highway 7 and O Street has been recognized by both city officials and Arkansas Tech University leadership.
There are multiple reasons why the construction of an underpass/tunnel at the intersection connecting Tech campus to the intramural fields should be pushed forward. Although some plans for an underpass do already exist, the construction needs to be made a priority and should begin immediately after the O Street construction is finished.
As Arkansas Highway 7 is the main highway in Russellville, it is bound to be busy. The intersection of O Street and Arkansas Highway 7 is one of the most dangerous intersections in Russellville, according to The Courier. The problem with the location of the Highway is that it splits ATU campus from the intramural fields and vista place apartments.
The answer — an underpass.
When asked about the intersection, Russellville Mayor Randy Horton was deeply concerned about the safety of pedestrians. He recommended that there not be a bridge but an underpass tunnel due to the underpass being more cost efficient and easier to walk through.
“A safer route for pedestrians is a high priority deal, and that construction for an underpass is in the city development plans for the future,” Horton said. Horton estimates that the underpass construction could start as early as late 2017 or early 2018.
Funding for the underpass will come from the ten-year-half-cent sales tax, which was passed by the state in 2013, for transportation and highway needs. The tunnel is estimated to cost just over a million dollars.
Many students walk back and forth from campus to Vista Place Apartments and the intramural fields. A tunnel would be much safer for pedestrians crossing the intersection.
Caraway Hall, serves as sorority housing and sits off Highway 7, just south of the intersection.
When asked if an underpass would be helpful to the women of Caraway Hall, Maggie Hand, Zeta Tau Alpha president, said, “a tunnel would be used a lot. Most of us drive to the intramural fields due to the hazard that Highway 7 presents. An underpass there would make walking to the fields a lot easier.”
With a tunnel being placed under Highway 7, there would be more people walking not just from Caraway, but from the rest of campus as well. This would tremendously help the parking situation at the intramural fields as less students would be driving to the intramural fields.
For safety’s sake, let construction of an underpass come with haste and provide protection to all at Arkansas Tech University.