Better weather pushes road projects forward

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - The fall weather this year isn't as wet or cold as it normally is in Arkansas.

This less than damp weather has had a significant effect on the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.

Brad Smithee, District Engineer with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, said they're excited.

"It's been an unusual fall," Smithee said. "Somewhere about the first of October or middle of October, fall and winter weather has begun. This year, here we stand on the 14th day of November, and I don't even remember when the last day it rained was. That has affected our construction and maintenance work tremendously in that it has extended our season, you might say."

Smithee said they've made strides in more than one area.

"Our contractors and our maintenance forces have been able to accomplish a great deal of work this late fall. Much differently than we would have on most normal years," Smithee said.

Smithee said the most noticeable difference in their work has to do with the soil being dry.

"Generally speaking, by this time of the year," Smithee said. "Earthwork, holing and placement of soils for fields and roadways, that has had to end because the soils are wet and you don't get enough daylight for drying time after a rain. In a season like this, when you haven't had much rain, the drying is not necessary. So, we've been able to continue earthwork on all projects requiring that particular item of work."

Smithee said they're actually going to be ahead for next year.

"Because this year has allowed us these extra weeks," Smithee said. "It's made a significant difference in some of the things we're able to do and things that will get us ahead of next year's construction season. So, it's been a great asset. It's really nice for these things to allow us a little bit of additional work time that we don't plan for and don't expect."

Smithee said motorists can see the biggest difference along Highway 18.

"Probably, the biggest corridor that we've been able to make exceptional advances in our work would be along the Highway 18 sections of the different projects between Jonesboro and Blytheville. Those projects each have a good deal of earthwork that's ongoing," Smithee said.

Smithee said they're going to take advantage of the better weather for as long as they can.

"We're hauling dirt on projects today," Smithee said. "And we expect to continue that until the weather doesn't allow us to."

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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