Highway 10 comes of age 

By Janie Mann

Thirty years ago, state Highway 10, also known as Cantrell Road, was a ribbon of a road that wound its way west on a scenic course parallel to the Arkansas River, past Pinnacle Mountain, the shores of Lake Maumelle and into Perry County. The two-lane passed the small black community of Pankey, a couple of liquor stores, some trailers and lots of pine trees.

Today, Highway 10 is a principal arterial (the largest road designation below an interstate) for the city to points west. The six-mile section between Interstate 430 and Chenal Parkway has blossomed into a modern five-lane corridor lined with major developments, both commercial and residential, and more are on the way. But progress hasn't come without potholes: City Hall skirmished regularly over the area's zoning in the early 1990's. One even erupted into a full-blown legal battle. Now that the controversy has died down, city planners and real estate developers celebrate the corridor as an example of well-planned development.

Others aren't so sure as they fight rush hour traffic or worry about planned new commercial developments.

 A drive along the corridor offers a variety of views. Great cliffs of stone rise up at sharp angles from the road, covered thickly with trees, which give way to gently rolling hills. Split rail fences along the highway frontage add a country air, as this piece of Arkansas River valley land gives way to the early foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. Nearby are the peaks of Pinnacle and Shinall Mountains, the highest elevations in the county.

But a more recent feature along the road is less scenic. Signs rising from raw and exposed earth announce new development. Other signs seek purchasers for more development. With building in the West Markham-Bowman Road-Chenal Parkway area at critical mass, Hwy. 10 has become the new spot for businesses to locate, and the attention is worrisome to residents and activists.

Besides the fact that development has altered the bucolic nature of that segment of town, residents are concerned about traffic. According to the state Highway and Transportation Department, traffic along Hwy. 10 has tripled in the past 10 years, from 6,000 cars a day in 1991 to over 18,000 in 2001, the latest year traffic counts are available. During evening rush hour, a steady stream of vehicles — bumper to bumper in most places — fill both westbound lanes of Hwy. 10, a nasty surprise for those haven't been out there lately. For those who live and work in the area, fighting traffic on Hwy. 10 has become a way of life, and the future will bring even greater congestion.

Large employers like Cingular Wireless telecommunications company and Leisure Arts publishing are currently one of the greatest contributors to traffic counts.

Cingular's two-story, 100,000-square-foot building is located in the commercial and residential development known as The Ranch, which was developed by Financial Center Corp. The call center for the national telecommunications company houses 500 employees, mainly telemarketers and customer service representatives.

Cingular's neighbor Leisure Arts, the giant publisher of how-to instructional books on needlecrafts and home decor, employs 300 people in its executive offices and distribution center.

Family Life, a part of Campus Crusade for Christ, is building its international headquarters at Hwy. 10 and Drew Lane. The 100,000-square-foot facility will serve as office space for the ministry's 300 employees (with the capability of housing between 450 to 500 workers in future). The group will also broadcast several radio programs from the building.

Arvest, Superior, Bank of the Ozarks and Twin City Bank are building branches in the area. Retailers include the established Pleasant Ridge Square and Candlewood Shopping Center, and signs near Taylor Loop announce a future Walgreen's pharmacy.



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