The milder temperatures are a welcome break from the 100 plus degree heat workers endured back in early August, as they began paving the north end of the expansion. Segments of the new highway were opened to traffic last week, with a few sections left to pave. Despite traffic delays, most motorists have co-existed with heavy equipment through the long construction zone, and very few accidents have occurred in the area.
Dustin Treadway, Assistant Resident Engineer with the District 5 office of the Arkansas Highway Department, reported in August that the project was about 75 percent complete. Workers have finished the majority of the curbing, gutters and sidewalks, as well as paving large sections of the expansion. Many local residents are already regularly using the new sidewalks that are a part of the project.
The $4.5 million road widening project began in the fall of 2010, with the city of Ash Flat moving utilities and obtaining right of ways. 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 was 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 widens Highway 62 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 recently opened improved entrance and exit ramps.
Treadway said the project is on schedule to be completed in October.