Saturday, October 31, 2015

TOP STORY >> Kerr Station Rd. shut 60 days for drainage work

Leader staff writer

A portion of Kerr Station Road near Hwy. 321 in Cabot is closed for 60 days for the completion of a drainage improvement project.

Public Works director Brian Boroughs explained to The Leader on Friday that the city was awarded an $811,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Economic Development. Work on funding to enhance the Diamond Creek drainage basin began under former Mayor Eddie Joe Williams’ administration. There had been flooding, and it is one of the main drainage basins in the city.

The grant funds had to be used before 2016. The city had already requested extensions. The only option was to close a section of Kerr Station Road near Hwy. 321 from Oct. 27 to Dec. 31.

Boroughs said the original drainage improvement plan was to concrete the ditch from Hwy. 89 north of Knight’s Super Foods down to the community park on Campground and Kerr Station roads. The plan was approved by engineers in 2012, but, during 2013, the Army Corps of Engineers didn’t approve the designs due to environmental concerns. The plan had to be redesigned and was approved in 2014.

The project had three parts: To improve the culvert sections at Campground and Kerr Station roads from April 1 to June 1, the Kerr Station Road floodway from June 1 to Aug. 7 and the drainage basin west of South Haven between Panther Trail and Hwy. 321 after Aug. 8.

The rains during the spring pushed the project back.

The city coordinated with the school district to work on the roads used as bus routes first because they could not be closed. Summer was the only time to work on those portions because school was out.

The closed section of Kerr Station Road near Hwy. 321 is not used by buses for it is mostly morning and afternoon school traffic to Middle School South. The police and fire departments are using alternate routes. It is one of the most used city roads in Cabot.

School Superintendent Tony Thurman said, “The closure has significantly increased the amount of traffic on Panther Trail, but that is to be expected since it is the primary detour route.”

He continued, “It has not had any impact on bus routes, since we were notified well in advance and made adjustments at that time.”

Boroughs said, “We communicated as well as we could, warning about the upcoming closure 30 days before. We had a few complaints. We realize it is an inconvenience. (Mayor Bill Cypert’s) goal is to solve the drainage problems in the city and we’re delighted to be able to do that.”

Drivers will notice the wider shoulders, with guard rails crossing over the flood basin. That will allow for expansion to three lanes in the future, and bridges will not have to be added. A bonus of the drainage project was adding a right-turn lane from Campground Road onto Kerr Station Road.

“Drainage improvements are not glamorous, but are some of the most important infrastructure projects. We are trying to keep from having people’s houses flooding, and that would be a success,” Boroughs said.