Forward Thinking for a Growing City

by | Aug 1, 2014 | Features

Story thanks in part to The Nicholson Group and Russellville City Hall

Russellville is the heart and the hub of the River Valley, the center of commerce and the focal point of the region’s economic stability. For jobs and for shopping, all roads in the River Valley lead to Russellville.
Russellville is a growing town, though the growth has been steady and gradual. With a population of over 28,000, Russellville is the largest city along the river corridor between Little Rock and Ft. Smith.
A growing population creates burdens on the infrastructure. Russellville has addressed those concerns with forward- thinking solutions and the results can be seen at various locations around town. North Phoenix Expansion Project is a good illustration. North Phoenix addressed many concerns for Russellville and Pope County citizens. Mayor Bill Eaton explained the reasoning behind the expansion.
“The North Phoenix expansion provided a way to the hospital for those people on the north side of town and the county,” said Eaton. “It really cut down on the number of intersections and traffic lights that you would encounter in getting to the hospital.”
Eaton and city leaders recognized the needs and wants of other citizens as well. North Phoenix offers solutions for a diversity of transportation options.

“We also have a growing number of people that want to walk through the community, or ride a bicycle through the community,” said Eaton.
The North Phoenix expansion accommodates pedestrians and cyclists as well as vehicle traffic. A well-lit cycle/ pedestrian lane is clearly marked and utilized on a daily basis.
North Phoenix is an example of a holistic approach to city planning. In addition to its utility for autos, pedestrian and bicycle traffic, the street is also aesthetically pleasing. Streetlights and Gingko trees line the sidewalk and asphalt as it curves around the Arkansas Tech University campus. More projects like this are on the table.
The improvements and additions, done and in progress, have been funded by a one- cent sales tax that has been in place since 1993, with citizens voting to extend the tax through the years. Another extension of the one-cent sales tax will be on the ballot in September. All future projects hinge on the passage of this extension.
The following is a list of proposed projects, projects in progress and projects completed in Russellville Arkansas. All have been and will be funded by the one-cent sales tax.

The sales tax funding for a new Central Fire Station is set at $6.5 million. The current facility was built in the 60’s for a mostly volunteer force, as only eight firefighters manned full-time shifts. Today, the city operates with 30 full-time personnel, performing an increased list of service/ response duties including hazardous materials (HAZMAT), larger structural designs and an expanded city limits. As with many 50+ year-old structures, there are constant roof leaks, design/space limitations for personnel and equipment and non-ADA compliance issues. The current central station is also no longer compliant with the new ISO standards, which recently changed with the last rating period. A new Central Fire Station would update all these aging conditions, possibly improving the city’s fire insurance rating as well.
The one-cent sales tax has been a vital component of the growth of the city’s Recreation and Parks department in recent years. Continuing the tax will allow the department to embark upon more projects, like walking/biking trails, lighting at the soccer complex, an additional soccer field, backstops for baseball at Hickey Park and other needed capital improvement projects. ($1.3 million) Funding will also address a widespread community need for a new Aquatic Center, serving a diverse demographic spectrum from infants to senior citizens. Plans include a lane pool, diving well, therapy pool, children’s area, two party-rooms, locker rooms and concession area. This facility will provide a center for competitive events and fun activities, as well as improving personal health and fitness. An Aquatic Center should also add to the local tourism impact in Russellville. ($7 million).

Although sometimes invisible, improvements to infrastructure indicate the progressive nature of most cities. Russellville, Arkansas is no exception. The city’s one- cent sales tax has funded nearly $36 million of street and drainage improvements, some of which are detailed further in this brochure. All across our community — in residential as well as commercial areas — new streets, sidewalks, bikeways, drainage ditches, culverts, round-abouts and more have been constructed. Since 2003, these projects have continued to follow the guidelines of the city’s Capital Improvement Program, which was developed years ago to work in concert with the city’s storm water management plan and the master street plan. By voting for the continuation of the city’s 1-cent sales tax, the Power of the Penny will continue to improve our streets and traffic flow, better manage storm water drainage and enhance the quality of life we all enjoy in Russellville. (51% of projected sales tax revenue / 81.25% of any amount collected above the projected sales tax revenue)
1/16 of a cent will go toward funding various economic development projects across our city, such as lighting along the I-40 Russellville exits. Funds will also be used to secure state and federal grants for projects detailed in the recently developed downtown master-plan, as well as other general improvements throughout the community. (6.25% of the funds collected)
City Corporation will receive 1/8 of a cent to fund water and wastewater capital improvements. The majority of these funds will be used to comply with a federal Consent Administrative Order, which was recently issued due to violations caused by deficiencies in the wastewater collection and treatment systems. Estimates indicate $40 million will be needed to achieve compliance prior to the 2022 deadline. (12.5% of funds collected)

This $2.554 million project provided for the conversion of a two-lane, rural street with open side-ditches…to a two-lane, urban design including curb and gutter, storm water inlets and culverts. It also provided an eight-foot pedestrian/bicycle walk along the east side of the street. $1 million of the project was funded by the Arkansas Transportation Highway Division as part of a cost-share arrangement with the City of Russellville.
This project, the first “Complete Street” in the city of Russellville, was completed in 2012 for just over $3 million. The Street provides two 11-foot lanes with five and a half foot bicycle/pedestrian walks along each side, as well as curb and gutter. Ginkgo trees every 50 feet line the street along with period streetlights. This provided an additional north-south link to the western portion of the city.
South Detroit was rebuilt at a cost of $1.7 million. A rural street with open side-ditches, from East 11th to East 19th Streets, was converted into two, 12-foot lanes…complete with an urban stormwater system and sidewalk. The project improved local drainage for the neighborhood and access to Oakland Heights School.

The H and Parker Streets project is a signature neighborhood revitalization project. It will convert about 1.5 miles of two, aging streets that contain a hodge- podge of several different cross-sections and curb types into a “Complete Street.” When completed, it will consist of two, 10-foot traffic lanes, 5.5-foot bicycle lanes and 4-foot sidewalks along both sides. The street will also be accented with redbud trees and period light fixtures.
The N. Phoenix overpass accomplishes two pressing transportation related needs: an additional city railroad crossing and a more direct route between W. Main and W. Parkway for emergency vehicles. In doing so, this completes a full connection from 12th Street northward to Arkansas Ave. / Hwy 7. The overpass bridge will consist of two 11-foot lanes, supported by bicycle lanes and sidewalks. It will be enhanced by architectural treatments suggesting Art Deco trains along both sides. The exterior will complement the brick of Russellville’s historic train depot and other historic downtown buildings.

This 2500-foot complete street project will provide a vital, multimodal link between Arkansas Tech University and Russellville Downtown. Bicycle lanes and pedestrian walkways are included, along with vehicle traffic lanes. The street will also be accented with landscaped islands, street-side trees and period light fixtures.

A new 11-acre detention basis is being constructed at the south end of Waco Street to help control storm-water flooding in Brookside and surrounding neighborhoods. Projections indicate flows from a statistical 25-year storm will be reduced 50%. It is being designed multi-purpose project. The basin will consist of a flat, rectangular area surrounded by levees, which will contain the water. The low water channel will meander through the bottom of the basin and will be lined with trees, benches, picnic tables and other park amenities. There will also be large areas available for a variety of “pick up” field games. Once complete, evaluation provided to FEMA may result in some possible reduction of the regulatory floodplain.
East Russellville North-South Arterial — $10,500,000
True F. Smith/Inglewood Retention Basin — $700,000
I/40 Frontage Road; Arkansas Ave. to SR 124 — $1,430,000
Lakefront, Parkway & W. Main Intersection Improvements — $500,000
Annual Neighborhood Sidewalk Retrofit Program — $2,940,000
Annual Street Resurfacing Program –$4,900,000

Arkansas @ SR124 Intersect & Drainage Improvements – ATU Gateway — $745,000
N. Glenwood Extension from L St. to W. Parkway — $1,900,000
Annual Neighborhood Streetlight Retrofit Program — $2,000,000
N. Arkansas Ave. Streetscapes/ Sidewalks — $250,000
Total: $25,865,000 





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