Expect delays on trips through the city of Ash Flat for at least another year, as a $4.5 million road widening project is only a third of the way to completion.
While much of the dirt work is completed and workers with Batesville's White River Materials remain busy, they have far more to do before next year's expected completion date.
The project began in the Fall of 2010, with the city of Ash Flat moving utilities and obtaining right of way. An environmental impact statement was submitted to the Federal Highway Administration, which gave final approval for the project to be bid.
Joe Trantham, District 5 construction engineer, said at a June 2009 public meeting that the widening project is needed for safety purposes on the busy highway, and to accommodate future growth. The AHTD took public opinion surveys and public meeting feedback from area residents into consideration before beginning the 1.1-mile expansion project.
The expansion will widen the highway going through Ash Flat to five lanes, including a middle turning lane. The project begins near the intersection of Highway 354 and ends at the intersection of Highway 62/412, which is receiving improved entrance and exit ramps.
Workers are currently constructing sidewalks and curbs and gutters along the roadside.
So far, a minor amount of paving has been completed, and much more dirt work is ahead as the project progresses.
Recently, motorist frustation increased because the ramps to and from Highway 62/412 were closed. That means all traffic must now go through the traffic light.
The good side of construction is an economic boost as materials as purchased locally, including concrete and supplies, and construction workers patronize local businesses.
Because there are few alternate routes to avoid the construction traffic, patience is strongly urged, as delays will continue during the next phases of construction.
Glen Bolick, a spokesman for the AHTD said, depending on weather, the project is slated for completion sometime next fall.