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HOT SPRINGS -- The Arkansas Department of Transportation's tunnel feasibility study has determined it is more cost-effective to move a ridgeline standing astride the proposed route for the King Expressway extension rather than to bore through it.

Department spokesman Danny Straessle said the study determined that the cut-and-fill method made the most financial sense for threading the 5.16-mile, two-lane extension through the ridgeline in the Promise Land Drive area north of the U.S. 70 east interchange. The proposed route would also cross Mill Creek Road en route to the junction at Arkansas 5 and Arkansas 7.

Straessle said the department estimates that more than 1 million cubic yards of soil would have to be cut from the ridgeline.

The department plans to present a preliminary design for the expressway project at a public meeting early next year. The proposed right of way will be part of the presentation.

"We do not have any of the right of way acquired right now," Straessle said. "We're doing some preliminary design work and cost estimates so we can go to the public and say, 'Here is the proposed alignment and the right of way impact we anticipate.'"

He said the department plans on letting bids for the construction phase of the project in the 2019 State Transportation Improvement Program year, which begins in July. Garland County is committed to a $25 million share of the construction costs and to $30 million for the total project.

The department has estimated the project will cost more than $60 million and has pledged that the county's obligation won't exceed the $30 million. The county has already committed $2 million of its $5 million share for project development and expects to be billed for the balance next year.

The $54.6 million bond issue that voters approved in June 2016 is paying for the county's share of the cost. The bonds are secured by a five-eighths percent sales tax that will sunset when the debt is retired.

Elsewhere in the area, four county-maintained roads selected by County Judge Rick Davis for improvements, with input from B&F Engineering Inc., will be ready for paving by next spring.

B&F President James Montgomery said soft spots in the bases of Cedar Glade Road, Turkey Trot Lane, Blacksnake Road and Trooper Drive are being cut out and refilled in the expectation that paving will start in the spring. The county hired the local engineering firm to oversee projects paid for from the county's $12.7 million share of the bond proceeds. B&F is also coordinating with the Transportation Department on the expressway extension.

The project includes drainage, a hot-mix overlay and widening of the roads to 22 feet. Davis said most county roads are 18 to 19 feet wide and can be expanded 2 feet on either side without going beyond the county's right of way, which is generally 40 feet.

The work on Turkey Trot Lane will span from Cedar Glade Road to Blacksnake Road. Cedar Glade's work will span from Arkansas 227 to Wildcat Road, including adding guardrails and signage to the bridge over Bull Bayou Road.

Blacksnake Road will be improved from Turkey Trot Lane to Arkansas 227, and the entire length of Trooper Drive in Mid-America Industrial Park will be widened and overlaid.

Montgomery said the county has contracted Burkhalter Technologies in North Little Rock to do the work.

Work on Majestic Lodge and Thornton Ferry roads is part of the second bid package the county is preparing. Majestic Lodge will be widened and overlaid from Airport Road to Hill Wheatley Park. Montgomery said the improvements will include drainage upgrades and possibly curbs and sidewalks.

An overlay on Springwood Road is also expected to be part of the project.

Thornton Ferry work will run from Albert Pike Road to Anderson Street and include curbs and sidewalks. Montgomery said the project will tie into the Transportation Department job on Albert Pike Road. The department plans to widen more than 3 miles from the Mountain Pine junction west to the Lake Hamilton bridge.

Montgomery said the bridge-improvement bid package is tentatively scheduled to be let by the spring. DeArmon Bridge over Mill Creek will be replaced, as will the low-water bridge on Danville Road over the Lockett Creek tributary near Pitchercane Road.

The Danville Road bridge over Lockett Creek will be widened by about 8 feet, as will the Amity Road bridge over Rush Fork Creek. The bridge over White Oak Creek on Farr Shores Drive will also be replaced.

The county has set aside $1.9 million from its $12.7 million bond proceed share to partner with the state and Hot Springs on improvements to the expressway's Airport Road interchange. Its 37,000-vehicle daily average makes it the busiest intersection in the county, officials have said.

The set-aside funds are also earmarked for a partnership by the city, county and state for traffic signals at the Weston Road intersections at Albert Pike and Airport roads.

The city and county have both committed $50,000 from their bond proceed shares for a study of the expressway intersections at Airport Road, Albert Pike Road, Higdon Ferry Road and Central Avenue. The study will help determine a cost estimate for the Airport Road-expressway improvements, to which the city has also committed $1.9 million.

Metro on 12/26/2017

Print Headline: Projects in works for roads in county

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