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story.lead_photo.caption A map showing the location of Arkansas 9 safety upgrades.

A rural Saline County highway serving a mix of local travelers, Bryant school buses and Little Rock residents using it as a back way to Hot Springs is getting some modern safety improvements worth $8.6 million.

The bid by McGeorge Contracting Co. Inc. of Pine Bluff beat out bids submitted by three other contractors for the work on a 16.8-mile section of Arkansas 9 between Arkansas 5 west of Benton and the Perry County line.

McGeorge's bid of $8,657,477.11 narrowly bested the bid by the next-lowest bidder, Redstone Construction Group Inc. The Little Rock contractor's bid of $8,697,491.74 was $40,014.63 more than the McGeorge bid.

The other bids submitted included $9.5 million from Blackstone Construction LLC of Russellville and $10.2 million from Kiewit Infrastructure South Co. of Fort Worth.

The work includes adding guardrails, shoulder rumble strips and pavement markings, as well as patching the roadway. The project is being funded with U.S. Department of Transportation money available for work that improves safety. A copy of the study documenting the safety issues wasn't immediately available Wednesday.

The project was one of 33 projects on which the Arkansas Department of Transportation opened low bids worth $56.6 million.

Bids included six state highway projects with low bids worth $48.6 million, 19 county road projects worth $6.6 million and eight city street projects worth $1.4 million.

The department will review the bids for errors or corrections before they are final.

The section of Arkansas 9 targeted for improvements intersects Arkansas 5 west of Benton. The two-lane highway makes its way north through the unincorporated community of Paron in north Saline County, where it intersects with Kanis Road west of Little Rock before continuing north to Perry County, where it intersects with Arkansas 10, also west of Little Rock.

About 1,200 vehicles per day travel on much of that section of the highway, particularly between Arkansas 5 and Paron, according to the latest available department traffic data. North of Paron, daily traffic falls to less than 600 vehicles daily.

The vehicles include school buses traveling between Paron and Bryant.

The area near Paron is served by the Bryant School District, which is a 60-mile round trip. The Paron School District consolidated with the Bryant School District in 2006.

Residents in the far reaches of west Little Rock also use the route to travel to and from Hot Springs rather than go east to downtown Little Rock to reach Spa City via Interstate 30 and U.S. 70.

Metro on 07/26/2018

Print Headline: Arkansas 9 to get $8.6M in safety upgrades

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