AHTD discuss final project plans in pre-construction meeting

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - A project that has been in the works for several years is now moving.

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department hosted a pre-construction conference Thursday at the Paragould office.

The meeting required a group of contractors and local business owners to get together and discuss plans to complete the last three mile stretch of the Ark. 18 corridor.

Brad Smithee, District 10 Engineer, says they are very excited to begin working on this project.

"Currently, we have under construction the Monette bypass," he said. "Which has been ongoing this past season. It's starting to slow construction now with the windy weather."

In the meeting Thursday, Smithee met with a group of contractors and utility companies to discuss the main points of the third project.

"We got a third project under construction, which is the Manila project," he said. "It has a little section that's actually in our new location that goes south on Highway 77 and it cross back over to Highway 18."

However, Smithee also said some resident houses in the local area were affected by this construction.

"The current construction project that we're just beginning has been through the right-of-way matter," he said. "So, yes, there has been properties affected. The additional right-of-way was purchased."

We asked Smithee what can drivers expect for the new year - more ongoing construction.

"Drivers need to be very aware of the little changes of traffic patterns," he said. "Also, aware of daily construction techniques that may be ongoing and just be very cautious through these construction projects...It's a long corridor, and multiple projects means multiple things that maybe going on at any given day."

The cost of the project came in at $35.4 million.

Smithee said they plan to begin work after the first of the year.

The final project is expected to be completed by 2019.

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