Friday, January 08, 2016

TOP STORY >> Detour ends as repairs finished

Leader staff writer

Kerr Station Road between Panther Trail and Hwy. 321 in Cabot reopened on Friday after being closed since October for a drainage improvement project.

Many residents of the Bluebird Way apartment complex, who lived nearest to the closure, were relieved the road opened.

“We are thrilled to death that it’s done. It took me 35 minutes to get down Panther Trail in the mornings and afternoons when the schools were open. It took forever. Now it takes four minutes,” resident Barbara Bennett said.

Apartment manager Tammy Carmical said, “It was very inconvenient to have it closed. It added six minutes to my commute. But it was a lot quieter without the traffic. We are just thankful it is open again.

“We are also thankful for the drainage improvements. We had a serious issue with flooding and hope it will help out.”

A resident, who did not want to be named, said, “It is about time. It shouldn’t have taken that long. It was very aggravating.”

Cabot Middle School South office manager Tina Latimer said, “We are excited that it is open. It will help with the traffic flow and save time getting students in the car-rider lines in and out quicker.”

Public works director Brian Boroughs told The Leader on Friday the project was delayed one week due to the weather.

“The wet times are not ideal to set up gravel roadbed. It needs time for the rock to dry before paving,” Boroughs said.

He said results could be seen during the heavy rains in December. The additional pipes installed improved water flow in the project area.

“There will be intermittent lane closures to finish the project, adding guard rails and road striping,” Boroughs said.

The Kerr Station Road drainage improvement project was funded with an $811,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Economic Development. Work on funding began under then-Mayor Eddie Joe Williams’ administration to enhance the Diamond Creek drainage basin. It is one of the main drainage basins in the city, and there had been flooding.

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

The original drainage improvement plan was to concrete the ditch from Hwy. 89 north of the Knight’s grocery store 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 did not 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, 2015, 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.

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

The closed section of Kerr Station Road near Hwy. 321 is not used by buses. It is mostly morning and afternoon school traffic to Middle School South. However, it is one of the most used roads in Cabot.

The drainage project allowed for the widening of the shoulders with guard rails over the flood basin. It will allow for expanding Kerr Station Road to three lanes in the future without having to add bridges. A right-turn lane from Campground Road onto Kerr Station Road was also added.