UALR has big plans for University Avenue

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Leaders at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock are using the words unattractive, uncomfortable and placeless to describe University Avenue. They also believe it is dangerous for students and staff.

A memorial can still be seen on University Avenue for UALR professor Rhonda Lewis. She was killed while crossing the street a couple years ago. A group of people have been working for a while now to try to come with a way to make this street safer and more desirable.

Each day, as cars speed by on University Avenue and people try to cross, students such as Bernice Nounamo say they are afraid.

"I am really scared," said Nounamo.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock wants to make it a safe place.

"This is going to be one of those big projects," said UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson. "It is going to be a multi-year project. It is going to be an expensive project."

The exact details are not ironed out yet. Plans do include improving traffic flow and slowing it down. Adding bike lanes and sidewalks. And sprucing the scenery up.

"We want it to help us build a much more walkable, livable community that is friendly to pedestrians and friendlier to business development," said Anderson.

Boba Teas Owner Kim Phan thinks improvements on University Avenue will help her business.

"I just hope this area can update," said Phan. "Look more cleaner. Brighter for the students."

An initial proposal includes putting four roundabouts on University, at 28th, 32nd, UALR Campus Drive and Highway 5.

One would be near Boba Teas. While Phan says a roundabout would help traffic, not everyone agrees roundabouts are the solution. Many of our THV facebook fans weighing in. Carol said, "There is way too much traffic on University for roundabouts." Eleanor said, "Revitalizing University? Yes! Roundabouts? No way!"

"Roundabouts are certainly an important option," said Anderson.

Anderson says whatever ends up coming out of the redesign will slow down the speed and improve the aesthetics.

"To make University a place of pride," said Anderson.

Anderson says they will have concrete plans by late summer, early fall. The City of Little Rock will ultimately have to approve the plans. They are not sure yet how much it will cost. Anderson did say UALR will contribute something in the seven figure range.

"We are working with our friends and neighbors here in the University district to make University Avenue a place of pride in the City," said Anderson. "One that will not only be good for the University district but also for all of Arkansas."


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