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Work Advances on Southwest Trail’s Successor

Tue April 06, 2010 - Southeast Edition
Zoie Clift


Work continues on the Arkansas-based portion of Highway 67, a north-south route that travels through a big chunk of mid-America, from the U.S.-Mexico border to Sabula, Iowa.

The project, which is slated to cost $24,816,799, includes constructing the embankment and bridges for 9.89 mi. (15.9 km) of the new location of Highway 67 between Highway 230 and Highway 63, south of Hoxie in Lawrence County. The project is being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and is being overseen by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD).

Six bridge structures will be constructed for a four lane divided freeway, and earthwork, erosion control and the building of minor drainage structures also are part of the job. The project will connect to a project currently under construction (which is not being funded via ARRA) that is widening Highway 67 to four lanes from Highway 226 northward to Highway 230 in Jackson County.

Ultimately Highway 67 will be four-lanes from Hoxie southward to Newport. Both jobs are for drainage and structure work, not final surfacing. When the jobs are completed in 2012 both will still need base and surfacing done.

“Our plan is to let that entire stretch as one project and it is estimated at over $50 million,” said AHTD spokesperson Glenn Bolick. “It would be at least 2013 before that job is ready for contract.”

According to Shannon Luke, resident engineer of AHTD, equipment used to date includes Case 580 backhoes, Lima 52-ton cranes, Terex HC80 cranes, John Deere 450G dozers, and Komatsu PC300LC trackhoes.

Dumey Contracting Inc., Benton, Mo., is the prime contractor on the job and is scheduled to perform all the earthwork for the project. Robertson Inc. Bridge and Grading Division, Poplar Bluff, Mo., is serving as subcontractors and is building the bridges and other minor drainage structures.

According to Luke, all the equipment on the ground is being used by the bridge subcontractors. He said none of the earthwork contractor’s equipment is on the job site as of yet.

“The bridge subcontractor is and has been the only one working on this project,” said Luke. “They currently have six workers and a supervisor and have been working one shift Monday through Friday.”

Luke said the biggest challenge has been the persistent cool and wet weather since last July.

“The higher than average rainfall has prevented the contractor from completing the project [Highway 226 project] to the south of this project. Once they complete that work, they will move to this project.”

Luke added that the work order was issued last June and work began in mid-July. He said the project is a working date contract and currently 1.3 percent of the time has been charged and 9.7 percent of the work is complete. The project is expected to finish by December 2012.

Both projects are part of an overall Highway 67 project that stems from a plan created in the 1960s for a four-lane highway from Little Rock to the Missouri line. Progress on the route is made as funds become available.

The highway has quite a bit of history associated with it. It is the successor to the Southwest Trail, the oldest land route through the state, and has been part of the highway system since the system’s inception in Arkansas in 1923. Before development of the interstate highway system, the highway was a heavily traveled route between Little Rock and St. Louis.

Currently there are 110 ARRA financed highway construction projects under way or completed in the state involving $340.9 million in funds. AHTD has 16 ARRA projects scheduled worth an estimated $50.8 million. According to data provided by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the projects have created almost 4,500 jobs in the state.

ARRA was signed into law in February 2009 and provided $48 billion for transportation improvements over two years, including $27.5 billion for highway, bridge and related construction projects nationwide. ARRA provided $351.9 million to Arkansas for highway, bridge and related improvements.




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