Plans detailed for the Hillsboro Gateway corridor at an open house Tuesday are not a definite design quite yet.
“What’s going to happen next is there is going to be a design actually done, and during that design process, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department will be talking to individual property owners,” said Dave Roberts, vice president of planning and business development for Crafton Tull and Associations, Inc..
Crafton Tull and Associations, Inc. was contracted by the city of El Dorado in April 2016 to help get information from the community on how to modify Hillsboro Street.
In the next phase of the project, property owners along Hillsboro Street will be contacted by the Department of Transportation to decide what works best. Driveway placements, encroachment on the front end of properties, compensation on any potential property loss and many other things that may affect property owners will be discussed.
“Details have yet to be worked out,” Roberts said. “We’re just trying to give you the big idea.”
One detail they are looking at is how to modify terms of design guidelines and zoning to allow buildings to respond to the context of what will be along the corridor.
“This is us trying to look at your tree spacing, landscape spacing, all of those extra things that come a long a roadway to enhance it aesthetically,” said Julie Luther, director of planning for Crafton Tull and Associations, Inc.
Hillsboro Street was broken down into five already existing districts:
• The gateway district on the east end towards Highway 167, which already has two lanes totaling in 12 feet with some shoulder room.
• The downtown district, which is placed in the middle area of Hillsboro Street.
• The east side neighborhood district, which has two lanes.
• The west side neighborhood district, similar to the east side neighborhood district, containing two lanes, with more of a right of way.
• The gateway district on the west end towards Highway 82, which already has a three lane section.
The gateway on the west end will have the least amount of construction, according to the master plan. There will be a 10-foot sharable path that will be placed on the north side of the street and a 5-foot sidewalk placed on the south side.
There will be a travel lane going in each direction, with a median down the middle with landscaping stretching from one end of Hillsboro Street to the other. The median will not be a continuing median, to keep space open for intersections and roundabouts. It will be around four miles long.
Crafton Tull hopes this will encourage development on Hillsboro.
Predominately, the land use on Hillsboro Street is commercial, Luther said. The buildings vary from size of buildings, size of lots, how far back those buildings are set. All of these components are the way they are because development of Hillsboro Street happened at different times.
They also showed pictures of examples from Maumelle and Hot Springs’ downtown area.
These suggestions are to boast the existing businesses, encourage entrepreneurship, facilitate new development and improve property values, as well as create job opportunities and attract visitors.
“This plan is not set. However, what we are saying is if you want to implement these things, these are the steps you would follow,” Luther said.
Next week, the El Dorado City Council will convene for a special meeting review the terms of a proposed agreement for the city to adopt U.S. 82-B once the improvements are made.
The council passed a resolution in February that authorized Mayor Frank Hash to negotiate with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department to find a design concept for the project that will be mutually beneficial for the city and state.
While the proposed project is still in the planning stages and years away from completion, showing the state the city is ready to assume ownership and maintenance of the four-mile corridor helps to push the development process forward, Hash said.
Additionally, the mayor explained that by adopting the corridor, the city would be able to relax some of the standards that are required for the maintenance of state highways, such as retaining three feet of green space between the curb and sidewalk.
On Wednesday, Hash asked aldermen to meet at 5 p.m. Oct. 19, just prior to the regular council meeting, for a briefing on the proposed agreement with the AHTD and give him the go-ahead to sign it.
News-Times reporter Tia Lyons contributed to this article.
Kaitlyn Rigdon can be reached at 870-862-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.