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City Council approves plan for Hillsboro corridor improvement

Posted on April 6, 2018


By Tia Lyons
Staff Writer

The El Dorado City Council approved Thursday a resolution supporting a master plan for improvements to the U.S. 82 B/Hillsboro gateway.

The plan will now be used and revised, as needed, in an ongoing project by the Arkansas Department of Transportation and Crafton Tull and Associates, Inc., the engineering and survey firm that developed the plan.

The resolution topped the council’s agenda and council members passed it posthaste at the start of the meeting.

Julie Luther and Dave Roberts — both of Crafton Tull and Associates, Inc., engineering and survey firm — presented the final design concept to council members during their last regular meeting on March 22.

Luther noted then that the proposal was the culmination “of a couple of years of effort.”

Just over a decade ago, city officials and community leaders called on the Arkansas Department of Transportation to widen and improve U.S. 82 B/Hillsboro through El Dorado.

The effort was driven by Madison Murphy, who served on the state highway commission from 2003 until 2013.

Murphy helped to form a committee made up of civic and community leaders to shape the plan with ARDoT.

In 2016, the city contracted with Crafton Tull to work with the city and ARDoT to develop a master plan that would be amenable to both sides.

The work included several public hearings, in which local citizens offered their input to address pedestrian safety, traffic congestion, roadway capacity, multi-use paths,

beautification, land-use and other components to improve the city’s primary east-west artery.

The Crafton Tull team divided the Hillsboro/US 82B corridor into three district types: gateway (located on both ends of Hillsboro and bound by U.S. 82 and U.S. 167 with larger lots and commercial enterprises that offer goods and services to a more regional market); neighborhood (located between the gateway and downtown districts, predominately offering locally-owned and neighborhood-scaled retail services): and downtown (located in the center of the corridor between the two neighborhood districts, immediately south of downtown El Dorado).

Luther said the downtown district has prime potential to support and benefit from the Central Business District and the Murphy Arts District.

In addition to the corridor conceptual design, the master plan includes recommendation plans for revitalization and implementation.

The highway widening project, which is still in its developmental stages, calls for roundabouts (one at the South West Avenue intersection), landscaped medians and the replacement of two bridges, including the Hillsboro viaduct.

Last October, the city passed a resolution to adopt and maintain U.S. 82B/Hillsboro upon completion of the highway project.

The city’s portion of an agreement with ARDoT will cost $3 – $4 million.

Hash asked the council to review the plan and consider a “vote of confidence” in the form of a resolution for Thursday’s meeting.

Also on Thursday, the council appointed Brian W. Jones to the El Dorado Parks and Playgrounds Commission.

During a meeting last week, commissioners selected Jones among a group of candidates to fill a vacancy that was left by John Thomas Shepherd.

Shepherd resigned from the commission last summer after being appointed as the 13th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney to fill the unexpired term of the late David Butler.

Butler died unexpectedly in August 2017.

“It’s Dr. Jones,” Alderman Judy Ward said prior to the vote, noting that Jones has a doctoral degree in health sciences.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or by email at tlyons@ .