Bentonville Christmas parade ready to roll despite ongoing road work nearby

Parade participants perform Dec. 10, 2022, during the annual Christmas Parade in downtown Bentonville.
(File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)
Parade participants perform Dec. 10, 2022, during the annual Christmas Parade in downtown Bentonville. (File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)

BENTONVILLE -- The intersection at Southwest Eighth and South Main streets will be open Saturday, but only for Christmas parade traffic, a city official said.

The intersection is closed as work continues moving east on the Eighth Street widening project.

"It will also be open to pedestrians so they can gather and view," said Jarrod Brightwell, city engineer. "Just to reiterate, traffic will remain as it is today and will not be allowed to drive through the intersection."

The parade will start at 6 p.m. It will move down South Main Street to the downtown square. Parade announcers will be the intersection of South Main Street and East Central Avenue.

There are more than 120 entries and around 15,000 people are expected to line the parade route, said Aaron Nolan with Downtown Bentonville Inc.

A parade map from Downtown Bentonville shows the parade staging area south of Southwest Eighth Street and west of its intersection with South Main Street.

Officer Melissa Fox, spokeswoman for the Police Department, said there will be extra patrols downtown and the command staff will be on site. Fox said people need to get to the parade route early if possible and be aware that some downtown parking areas will be closed because of construction.

The latest Eighth Street closing related to the street project started Sept. 8. The closing is east of Southwest A Street to Southeast C Street and encompasses the South Main Street intersection.

That phase of work is expected be completed and open to traffic Jan. 12, but weather and other circumstances could affect that timeline, Brightwell said.

Paving is being completed, and the next steps are sidewalks, a shared-use path, lighting and landscaping, he said.

From Southeast C Street to Southeast J Street, road widening will be done without a full closing. Work will be done on the north side of the street and then the south, Brightwell said.

The $28.1 million Eighth Street project is being built in phases from the intersection of Southwest I Street to its intersection with Southeast J Street -- a span of about 1.4 miles, according to Dennis Birge, city transportation director.

Money for the project comes from the city, state, the Walton Family Foundation and other private funding, according to the city.

Crossland Heavy Construction is the contractor.

Southeast J Street is one of the boundaries of the new Walmart home office campus, now under construction. Walmart will build the section of Eighth Street that will run through its campus, Birge said.

A small area -- about 400 feet -- of Southwest Eighth Street between Southwest A and South Main streets also will reopen when the next phase is finished next month, Brightwell said.

A section of Eighth Street between South Walton Boulevard to near Southwest A Street opened July 10. That closing began in November.

All phases for which the city is responsible should be complete by late summer 2024, Birge said.

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