Leader Blues

Friday, May 26, 2006

TOP STORY >> Road improvements on tap for Sherwood

BY JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Two major road widenings are intended to help rapidly
growing Sherwood alleviate some rush-hour congestion.

The city of Sherwood can begin buying right-of-way for the long-awaited widening of Brockington Road between Kiehl Avenue and Hwy. 107, Mayor Bill Harmon told the Sherwood City Council this week.

The first segment goes from Mary-land Avenue north to Hwy. 107. The second segment, not yet funded, will run from Kiehl to Maryland. Even as the city prepared to begin the job, the state Highway Department held a public hearing Tuesday evening on its plan to four-lane Hwy. 107 from Bear Paw Drive to Brockington Road, where the two projects will intersect.

“That’s not exactly controversial,” said Highway Department spokesman Randy Ort of the Hwy. 107 widening.

“There’s a limited number of property owners, and (the highway) is already widened to the south and underway to the north,” he said. “Everybody knew it was coming.”

The widening to four lanes will be about 1.6 miles long and cost an estimated $7.5 million, according to Martin Cruce, highway design engineer.

The project could be let for bids early in summer of 2007 and be completed within two years.

BROCKINGTON

The entire Brockington Road widening between Kiehl and Hwy. 107 is about 1.9 miles long.

The segment between Maryland and Hwy. 107 is about 1.2 miles long and will have four travel lanes and a raised median.
The .8-mile segment from Kiehl to Maryland will be four travel lanes plus a continuous two-way, left-turn lane down the middle, Ort said.

Current traffic along the route is 14,807 vehicles a day, according to a state Highway Department spokes-man, expected to increase 50 percent over the next 20 years.

Harmon said the city had money allocated for the first phase of the project.

The federal government will fund 80 percent of the project. Of the remaining 20 percent, Sherwood will pay 40 percent and Pulaski County 60 percent.

The project originally was estimated at $6 million to $7 million, but construction costs have increased as much as 40 percent since then, according to Jim McKenzie, executive director of Metroplan.

As the local metropolitan planning organization, Metroplan must approve of the plan.

“Our board is committed to the whole project,” said McKenzie, but there are a bunch of other projects in the pipeline as well. When Congress passed the Highway Reauthorization Bill, it included “smoke and mirrors,” he said. At most, 86 percent of what was authorized will be funded.

“The first projects to get there will get the money,” he said.

The state Highway Department reviewed the plans and “We’ll be the ones to award the contract and prided construction oversight,” said Ort.

“We don’t show any target (construction) dates right now,” Ort said.