MANILA, AR (KAIT) - At least two miles of lanes on the Manila bypass at Highway 18 will be open starting May 1, according to the Arkansas Department of Transportation.
ARDOT announced Wednesday that the lanes will be open, weather permitting. The opening will give people an opportunity to get around the area southeast of Manila, while helping contractors finish the four-lane and shoulders of the bypass.
People will need to use West Fleeman Street, near Sonic, to go into and out of the city's business district until construction on the east connector is done, ARDOT said in a news release.
That should take between two to four weeks, with overall work on the $14 million project is expected to be done by July 2018.
Earlier this year, the Arkansas Department of Transportation asked drivers to use extreme caution as it plans to open a portion of the Highway 18 bypass in Manila.
According to ARDOT Field Engineer Bryce Reeks, the traffic pattern will change for drivers traveling on Highway 77.
"Drivers coming into Manila on Highway 77 North will now be directed onto our new bypass," Reeks said. "Now we won't open the entire bypass for a few weeks, but we want drivers to get started getting used to the changes, so what we are doing, we'll have them come up to this stop sign off the new ramp, they'll be forced to make a left hand turn instead of driving straight into Manila on Highway 77."
Drivers going out of town on Highway 77 will access the portion of the bypass also.
They'll make a right turn onto the ramp to access the highway.
Reeks said ARDOT has placed numerous traffic signs in the area, he urges drivers to pay close attention to them to avoid crashes.
"They are not use to stopping at these intersections," he said. "We are putting up brand new stop signs that people are used to just blowing through this area. We want people to exercise extreme caution in this area because they aren't used to seeing traffic here."
This pattern change does not impact travelers coming in and out of Manila on Highway 18.
However, once the entire bypass opens, more traffic pattern changes will come.
Reeks said weather permitting, the project should be complete by July.