Greenwood Mayor Doug Kinslow signed off on a quarter of a million-dollar fund requisition to the Arkansas State Highway Department last week. The first $250,000 released to ARDOT of the total $5 million project will go towards engineering the traffic relief project.
Mayor Kinslow, like many of his predecessors, had presented plans to ARDOT in hopes of getting a traffic relief plan approved. “I had been visiting with ARDOT ever since I got into office,” Kinslow stated. “We got very fortunate…with the help of Senator Mathew Pitsch and former State Representative Charlotte Douglas. We got with ARDOT and presented what we thought was a make sense kinda plan. They looked at it and said we kinda like this one, it makes as much sense, or more, than anything we’ve seen so far…here are the things that make this happen.”
Kinslow and his team went to work, procuring the items on that list, including money, easements, and a willingness to take over sections of highway. After that, it was up to the voters to approve a bond to fund the project. In December of 2019, voters approved the bond issue in a three-to-one margin.
According to the law, there is a period of time to which those bonds must be spent, and on Thursday, June 24, Mayor Kinslow set in motion the project that has been a year and a half in the making. “I contacted ARDOT and let them know that the city needed to get them money…ARDOT has already made it (the project) official, we are on the state STIP (Statewide Transportation Improvement Program) and listed as a project for 2024… ARDOT has already sent out engineers and they have surveyed all of it. Now with this $250,000 commitment, it kicks it up a notch.”
Kinslow noted that once the preliminary engineering is complete, they will have a better picture of what the connection east of town, where Highway 96 intersects 10 Spur, is going to look like. That area, according to him, is the beginning of the project, going east to west. “We are anxious to review the engineering plans. We, the city, have a say so in this because we are spending $5 million of our money. We will look at it and say what we like and what we don’t.”
He went on to add that with this funding there is a guarantee that, regardless of the final project price tag, the city is only responsible for the agreed-upon amount of $5 million. “…In my opinion, this thing could end up costing $30 or $35 million by the time they get there, but our portion does not go up. State money will pay for the remainder, no matter what it is, minus $5 million.” ARDOT has indicated that the project could be moved up if federal monies become available. Kinslow indicated that he remains optimistic.
“It used to be considered a two-phase project…but if ARDOT receives federal money, our understanding is that we could get all that at one time. We have high hopes of that, we will see. It’s gonna happen. My point is that people know that we didn’t just pass a tax and…stick $5 million somewhere just to have it. This is happening. It is in the works. It takes a while, it is a lot of engineering, and a lot of dotted ‘i’s and ‘t’ s being crossed.”
Kinslow concluded by stating that the proposed housing project between Alpha Packaging and Chismville, which he jokingly refers to as “area 251”, comes at an ideal time. “I don’t think those folks would have considered that project without knowing this traffic relief is in place.”