Why the Detour?

NOVEMBER 22, 2006 -- POSTED AT 6:00 P.M. CST

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR -- Road construction can challenge the patience of any driver and improvements currently underway on a portion of Highway 141 are frustrating some motorists. Three different detours were recently opened along the highway and the way they've been constructed has raised a few questions.

Suzie Campbell lives in Walcott, but works in Jonesboro. She travels Highway 141 North everyday making her commute. Construction began a little over a year ago along the highway and ever since, Campbell says she's has her concerns.

"Nobody seemed to know what was going on and all of sudden here we are and we've got these little detours that add a little more misery to the commute everyday," says Campbell.

Just a few weeks ago, the state highway department opened detours going around the old stretch of highway. Detours that Campbell says don't make any sense.

"They've taken pretty much a straight road and turned it into very sharp curves. There are some places where the road is almost snakish in a very short distance," says Campbell.

We spoke with Joe Barnett at the Arkansas State Highway Department to find out why the detours were created. He says it's all to fix 3 of the bridges that run along the highway.

"They just won't carry the current traffic load and they also don't meet the current design standards," says Joe Barnett.

Barnett says currently, the bridges are too narrow for the roadways and the two don't meet up.

"We're to the point now that we've built the detours so that we can move traffic off the old bridges so that we can start to reconstruct those," says Barnett.

One of the concerns was the curvy way the detour roads were constructed, but Barnett says residents should rest assured everything is done with a purpose. He says part of the reason the detour was made so far over from the original road was to allow enough room to widen the new road and the bridges.

"The higher we raise the grade, the wider the road is going to be. So that's forced us to move the detour over several feet probably more than it looks like it needs to be," says Barnett.

Eight feet of shoulder room will also be added when the construction process is complete, which could up to 2 years from today.