Many local business owners and landowners from the area were present to discuss the proposed expansion and its impact on the area. Representatives and engineers from AHTD were present to explain the process, reasons for the expansion and right-of-way issues to the public. In addition to the discussions, a scale map of the project was available for viewing.
Ruby Jordan, public involvement section head, said the project is only in the preliminary phase and there is no cost estimate available. She said, "We will have to acquire property for right-of-ways but there is no displacement planned." This was a concern with many of the residents attending the meeting.
Representatives encouraged area residents to fill out the questionaries to provide input for the AHTD. Some of the questions pertained to historical sites, cemeteries and septic systems as well as asking for ideas that would make the project better serve the community.
Joe Trantham, District 5 construction engineer, said that any project comes from a need and this particular project was created mostly for safety purposes, but also to accommodate future growth. He said that before this project begins, the AHTD takes the public opinion polls and feedback into consideration. He said the first step is to get final approval from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Prior to this, the AHTD must submit an environmental impact statement.
After the final approval, Tranham says the 1.1 mile expansion will begin with moving utilities and the process of obtaining right-of-ways.
He said the project could begin in the fall of 2010 and said that it would take two summers to complete due to the limited working season for construction work.
The prospective five lane project is set to begin just outside Ash Flat near the Church of Christ and continue through the city to near the Citgo gas station.