Drought has been a boon for construction projects

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) --This year's drought has been difficult for firefighters and farmers. But it's been a boon for the construction industry.

Yes it's been a dry and dusty summer. But for major construction projects, it's been a banner year. I stopped by 2 large construction sites here in Region 8 to see where they stand on their work.

"Been a dream summer for us. We wouldn't have gotten this far if the weather had been like it was last year."

Brian Chancellor's work crew is on the final leg of the dirt work for the new NEA Baptist Hospital and Clinic site. When working with dirt, rain can be costly.

"It can make or break you. If it rains it can slow your schedule down and wet weather is really something you want to avoid in this line of work."

Chancellor said they are scheduled to be finished by December First but he feels confident that they will be done before that.

The biggest problems they had with the lack of rain was..

Chancellor, "Problems with grass to stabilize some of the slopes and a lot of dust. But other than that, it's been perfect."

And how dry was it this summer? According to Staff Meteorologist Sarah Tipton,  we had about 7 inches total rainfall in Jonesboro since May 1st.

Another big construction project that has moved rapidly during the drought is construction of the new Highway 226.

Brad Smithee is the District Construction Engineer for the State Highway Department.

"Where you're hauling earthwork building bridges, things like that. Dry days certainly benefit that work."

With very little rain it's been easy to get  ditch work done. I was able to walk through a square drainage conduit which had about an inch coating of dry buckshot on the floor.

Smithee, "There were several cross drains, several reinforced concrete box culverts that were done. . And while the low areas are dry it makes construction much easier. Our contractors can certainly work under those wet conditions and we do all the time, but a year like this certainly accelerates that entire process."

The new highway bed has had it's initial paving done from the Cash river to the 67/226 intersection, all done during the summer heat which though beneficial to building took it's tole on personnel. Chancellor had one hospitalized at the hospital site. Heat was also hard on the highway workers.

Smithee, "Almost all of our contractors had at least something in the nature of heat exhaustion. Some of them were more severe." Smithee said they had several cases of sever heat related illnesses.

The Summer is over , the drought still lingers on but certainly leaving behind some good things as far as progress goes.

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