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Arkansas Building 3 New Welcome Centers, Bidding on U.S. 71 Section

Fri August 22, 2003 - West Edition

LITTLE ROCK (AP) The state Highway and Transportation Department approved 29 bids for $32.6 million in construction projects, including three replacement welcome centers at popular state border crossings.

Contractors will build new welcome centers using native stone and large timbers to replace existing ones on Interstate 40 near Van Buren, on U.S. 167 near Junction City and on U.S. 67 near Moark.

All three will feature state-of-the-art computer kiosks, multimedia rooms, television monitors and picnic areas, said department spokesman David Nilles.

Bids were opened Wednesday. The projects included:

• The I-40 center, at the Oklahoma border, will be 6,000-sq. ft. (557.4 sq m). The apparent low bidder for the construction job Wednesday was SSI Inc. of Fort Smith, AR, at less than $2.7 million.

• The apparent low bidder for the 3,200-sq. ft. (297.2 sq m) U.S. 167 center, at the Louisiana border, was Ideal Construction Co. of Crossett, AR, at more than $2.1 million.

• The apparent low bidder for the 3,200-sq. ft. U.S. 67 center, at the Missouri border, was Progressive Constructors Inc. of Little Rock, at just under $2.1 million.

The Highway Department had to scratch bidding for the final section of a new, four-lane U.S. 71 south of Texarkana because preliminary dirt work has not been finished, Nilles said. That segment, about 10 mi. (16 km) of new road parallel to the existing two-lane U.S. 71 between Fouke and Doddridge, will likely be bid later this year, he said.

The interchange to the new highway at Texarkana is done and eight other segments of the project between Texarkana and Doddridge will be completed by December, Nilles said. Highway 71 will remain two lanes from Doddridge to the Louisiana state line until more funds become available, he said.