New school in Newport still doesn't have paved access

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) --The new Newport Pre-K through 6th grade school is set to open in August.

One area of concern is that there is no paved road that leads to the front of the new building.

Tonight the school is nearing completion.

So, what's the status on the road?

The plan is to put a section of highway in front of the new school.

It's called an economic development road and mayor David Stewart says according to a study made, that area is a real jewel.

"It was studied by professionals from Little Rock and their words were it was a "Diamond in the Rough" for economic development near the freeway. Hopefully we'll have retail establishments built on that road that will be serviced from either the freeway or Highway 18."

The new school will replace the Castleberry and Albright facilities and should be completed within a month or so.

However what is not yet completed or really even started yet is the road going by the front of the school.

The road will run between Highway 384 and Highway 18. It's a two mile stretch of 2 lane road.

The road is kind of a trade off between the city and the state highway department. Newport will take over 4 miles of highway in the city and do the dirt work and drainage on the new road.

Stewart, "The Highway Department will come in and put asphalt on it and do the signage and the striping and it will become a state highway."

Even though the school is scheduled to open in August, Mayor Stewart isn't worried about the road being built on time.

"Our plans are to start in early Spring, as a matter of fact within the next day or two start construction on the highway and hopefully have it open by mid-summer." I spoke with the contractor who was getting ready to start the dirt work, he assured me there would be pavement by late July.

Of course Mother Nature could step in and slow progress. If that happens there is a backup plan.

The only options the buses  and cars may have will be using a built up gravel road that construction people have had to use to get to the work site.

That road runs off county road 248 which is mostly gravel all the way to the school.

Stewart, "With a little bit of work on the construction road it will suffice for a temporary road until we get the road built."

Stewart said he spoke with the Newport School Superintendent and he agreed that with some build up it would be a viable option if the paved road isn't completed.

In spite of some reports Mayor Stewart says he has always felt confident that the road would be built and finished before the school opened.

But he says, they aren't on a definite time line..They have a back up plan.

©2010 KAIT All rights reserved.