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 evolved from a sidewalk project to a 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 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 to this issue 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 larger, making the entire roadway needing renovation.
In January, the street renovation project began, and was designed to include three lanes–two main lanes and a turning lane–as well as a bike lane, green space and a 6-foot sidewalk on each side.
Phase I, which includes O Street until it hits interstate 40, will begin early this summer, said Kurt Jones, public works director and city engineer. The sidewalk will go in front of Vista Place as originally intended in the sidewalk project.
The project will begin once water and sewer relocation is complete, and should take 9-10 months to complete, Jones said.
The land used will come from Arkansas Tech University. The city will contract with Tech for a 99-year agreement for an easement, Jones said. This contract allows the city to use the Tech property for 99 years before they have to remove their items from Tech land or renew the contract. The easement is that Tech will still own the property but the city has a right to “build a road, improve the road and maintain a road,” said Jones.
“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.