Friday, January 10, 2014

TOP STORY >> Graham road work nears end

Leader staff writer

It is hard to believe that Graham Road was just two lanes about 18 months ago, City Engineer Jay Whisker told the Jacksonville City Council on Jan. 2.

He presented a brief update on road projects during the agenda meeting.

For decades, the city’s street plan and other area maps have shown a four-lane road connecting Hwy. 89 in Lonoke County to Hwy. 107 in Pulaski County. The $3.6 million widening of a one-mile section of Graham between Loop and North Oak Street to four lanes is part of the master plan. The project is 80 percent federally funded.

Whisker showed recent photos and photos of the road that were taken during earlier construction.

He said nice sidewalks with a 3-foot buffer are complete.

“(It’s) quite an improvement to the area. They’re almost done,” Whisker said.

The crews still have to lay asphalt and do striping for a change order.

This newspaper requested that the last block — near the intersection of Graham, Elm and Oak streets — allow for two-way instead of a one-way traffic because that would make the area more accessible for its customers and people traveling to and from Lonoke County.

Jacksonville is spending $15,000 on the change order, the mayor said.

Whisker explained that the original one-way plan would have caused a lot of drivers to make an additional trip around a block.

He also said the crews are just waiting for required temperatures of 40 degrees or higher to lay the asphalt.

Utility relocation for a roundabout being constructed at West Main Street and Harris Road is nearing completion, Whisker continued.

That project is coming in just under $1 million, and it is under budget, he said.

Whisker also told the council that the state Highway Department is bidding replacements of the West Main Street and Redmond Road bridges on Hwy. 67/167 together.

The department has also selected a design for section three of the freeway, which is between the Vandenberg and Main Street exits, Whisker said. But he didn’t share the details of that design.

The state Highway Department is spending an estimated $120 million to widen from four to six lanes the freeway between Cabot and the I-40 intersection in Jacksonville.

In other business, the council reappointed Avis Twitty, Rick White and Jim Moore to the Planning Commission for terms that will expire Jan. 1, 2017.