|Updated: 11/03/2011 9:44 pm
||Published: 11/03/2011 7:45 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Business owners are facing the possibility of having to relocate because of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department's plans to widen a stretch of Highway 10, also known as Cantrell Road between Mississippi Avenue and Perryville Road.
As many as 20 businesses would be impacted along Cantrell Road by the widening project, which would extend about 5 feet on both sides of the road. Near Ken Rash's Casual Furniture, the plan is to build a retaining wall 10 feet high, eliminating the parking lot and entrance to the business. Owner Lawrie Rash says she'll be forced to move.
Heavy traffic rushes by on Cantrell Road between Mississippi Avenue and Perryville Road all day. David Nilles with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department says this is a safety project. "We have so much congestion on Cantrell with all the businesses, but putting in a center turn lane means folks turning left can get in that center turn lane allowing traffic going through to use the main travel lanes."
But Rash says the plans to widen Cantrell to five lanes by creating a middle turn lane makes her feel like she's getting run over. "Everybody is in agreement there needs to be a turning lane because it is unsafe. It’s a highly traveled road, but I feel the plan can be revised. If they go through with the plan the way it is, most businesses here will be forced to close."
That includes Lucy Hammett's business, Abbey Carpet and Floor. Hammett says the project would prevent customers from easily accessing her business. "The road would come back to the edge of my sign a little more than 5 feet."
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department recognizes the huge impact this project will have, but Nilles says it's necessary. "We're making is as easy as we can."
Nilles says the design can be tweaked, but only by moving a driveway or retaining wall. The project is going to happen. Bids will go out the beginning of 2013 and construction will start a few months later. It will take nearly 2 years to complete and about $30 million.