Tuesday, February 03, 2015

EDITORIAL >> Construction all around us

The $107 million runway renovation on Little Rock Air Force Base is one of the major construction projects in our community — the first major overhaul of the flightline in 60 years.

The new runway will be 12,000 feet long, the same length as the old one, and 150 feet wide, 50 feet narrower than the existing runway.

The first phase of the project gets underway this month, mostly ground preparation and utility work. Phase 2 is expected to begin in April and includes demolition of half the flightline.

The runway construction should do the job for at least another 50 years.

The $200 million widening of Hwy. 67/167 between Cabot and Jacksonville is continuing, although the state Highway Department has reversed the second and third phases of the project.

Widening of the highway between the north end of the new Main Street overpass and the south end of the Vandenberg overpass in Jacksonville was to have been let for bids in 2017.

But, because of the involved relocation of utilities and acquisition of right of way, that bid will be let in April 2019 instead.

To keep the project moving, phase three, between Vandenberg Boulevard and Hwy. 5, originally set for bids in 2019, will be let in September 2017 instead.

In other words, “the projects have been flip-flopped.”

The Hwy. 67/167 project is one of the most expensive since the construction of the I-430/I-630 interchange in Little Rock, which is nearing completion at a cost of $125 million.

Hwy. 67/167 is more than 50 years old and needed an overhaul at least a generation ago. The highway has been widened from McCain Boulevard to Redmond Road and is continuing all the way to Cabot. An economic renaissance awaits the communities along the highway.