U of O project to improve pedestrian safety

Release Date: 8/11/2011

Clarksville, Ark. --- University of the Ozarks and the city of Clarksville are teaming up to install pedestrian improvement areas to enhance safety along a stretch of College Avenue that runs through campus.

The project will include a series of nine traffic calming areas, or "islands," that will stretch 1,280 feet, or just under a quarter of a mile, along College Ave., also known as Highway 103. The heavily traveled Highway 103 is one of the main north-to-south arteries in Johnson County.

University officials believe the pedestrian improvement areas will provide extra lighting and added safety through an area of campus that has seen significant growth in the past few years.

"The safety of students and staff, as well as for visitors to our campus, when they cross College Avenue, has been a concern of mine for some time, especially since we have dramatically built up the east side of campus," said U of O President Dr. Rick Niece. "With the new Rogers Student and Community Conference Center and the construction of Trustee Hall, pedestrian traffic across College Avenue will increase substantially. The pedestrian improvement areas will make Ozarks a safer and even more attractive campus."

Artist's rendering of the proposed project.

An artist’s rendition shows what the pedestrian improvement areas will look like along College Avenue.

The anticipated $296,000 project is a joint funding effort from the University, the city of Clarksville, and a $95,000 federal grant allocated through the Arkansas Highway Transportation Enhancement Program. Construction bid invitations for the project are expected to be sent out in November and work on the project could begin anywhere between December and March, according to U of O Business Manager Darrell Williams. Once work has begun on the project, it should take from 45 to 60 days to complete, Williams said.

The Clarksville City Council voted unanimously on July 11 to provide the balancing of the funding for the project, up to $141,000. The city is sponsoring the project and overseeing the construction process.

"We believe the traffic calming areas will not only provide better safety for students and for visitors to campus, but it will create a very positive image for the university and for Clarksville," said Clarksville Mayor Billy Helms. "The university, with its 150-plus employees and over 600 students, continues to be a major influence in the commerce of Clarksville."

University officials have worked closely with Clarksville Director of Parks and Recreation Tom Cogan, City Engineer Morgan Barrett and numerous other city and state officials in devising the project.

"This project could not have been possible without the generous support of Clarksville," said Niece. "Mayor Billy Helms, Tom Cogan, Morgan Barrett, and the City Council members are to be commended for their belief in the University of the Ozarks. We are very privileged to work with professionals who always have the well-being of Clarksville at the top of their priority list."

The traffic calming "islands" will be 4 feet 6 inches wide and will include 16-foot light poles with double-arm light globes. The series of "islands" will begin near the crest of the hill on College Ave. near the south entrance of the campus and run to Buchanan Street on the north side of campus.