FORT SMITH, Ark. — On Thursday, March 10, the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) held one of a series of meetings looking at the impacts of trucking traffic along U.S. 64 in Fort Smith as it follows Garrison Avenue.
The highway allows for trucking commerce to enter and leave Arkansas across the Garrison Avenue Bridge and continue to U.S. 64 via 11th Street heading northwest.
However, the stretch of downtown between 10th and 11th Streets and the Garrison Avenue Bridge are at the center of a study commissioned by ARDOT with the Halff Associates of Little Rock.
ARDOT public information officer, Dave Parker, says Thursday's meeting is the first step in a long process to determine if the project is feasible.
“There are a couple of solutions we’re looking at and I would hope that by the end of the year, we certainly will have eliminated one or two of these current options and get it down to a Plan A and Plan B,” Parker said.
The City of Fort Smith has voiced some concerns about the traffic created by semi-trucks using U.S. 64 along Garrison Avenue as they continue to develop and revitalize downtown. The city also understands the importance of trucking commerce and its role in supplying businesses with what they need to operate.
Jeff Dingman, the Deputy City Administrator for the City of Fort Smith says, “traffic has long been a concern.” Dingman went on to say the trucks are necessary for the economy but asks, “is there a different way?”
The study aims to answer just that. Many proposals have been made, such as alternate routes connecting Kelly Highway to Riverfront Drive to the possibility of a new bridge completely moving U.S. 64.
By the end of the year, there is hope for an answer to this question. Trucking is crucial for business, but some would like to see the trucks diverted out of downtown. Russell Bragg, the senior vice president of supply chain with OK Foods says, “we just have to figure how to get the two to live together.”
You can find more on the meeting and study from our content partner Talk Business & Politics.
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