CONWAY, Ark. – In Conway, a less-than one-mile stretch of road is set to be expanded; a total renovation that has neighbors split.
Some say it’s something that’s been due for years while others worry it could end their way of life.
Harkrider road in downtown Conway is set to be widened between Oak and Bruce streets, a 0.7-mile length that includes an infamously difficult intersection. The City of Conway and ARDOT are partnering on the project, adding in a median turn lane, new sidewalks, and lights at College Ave – an update many neighbors see as a positive.
“It’s very narrow currently, there are no sidewalks,” said Bobby Kelly, a spokesperson with the Conway mayor’s office. “Something has got to be done at the intersection of College Ave. It has been a safety concern for quite some time.”
The project could kick off in late 2023, but not everyone is ready to give it the green light.
Right on Harkrider at the corner of a shopping complex sits Grow Girl – a succulent shop and event space just setting down roots.
“We’re an interactive planting boutique,” owner Jamie Loynachan explained. “People come in and they pick pots, and they pick succulents and then we help plant them.”
Loynachan has been open exactly a year and looks forward to many more years of growth, a plan she says this project could put a stop to. Loynachan explains the outline could cut into vital real estate, taking away parking spaces and store signage that advertises Grow Girl. That’s not including the impact construction would have on a brand-new business – something Loynachan says would be devastating.
“Part of our store is actually in the red line,” she said, referring to initial plans to widen the roadway. “I don’t know how my business is going to survive if this road closes. I’m very, very frustrated by it.”
Kelly says the city and ARDOT are aware of the concerns of business owners and are now in the public comment phase of the project, where neighbors and briskness owners can pitch in on what they think of the project and how things can be improved.
“We do encourage folks who have not heard about this until now to please reach out to ARDOT,” said Kelly, “because now is the time and the clock is ticking,”
Those in Conway can share their feedback until June 24th online.
The city says nothing is set in stone right now, and they encourage all businesses and drivers to make their voices heard before the deadline.
Feedback and more information on the project can be found online.