Leader Blues

Thursday, December 14, 2006

TOP STORY >>Highway widening gets under way in Jacksonville

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer

The northbound passing lane on Hwy. 67/167 is temporarily closed as workers take preliminary steps on a two-year project to widen a 1.5-mile long segment to three lanes between the Hwy. 440 overpass and Redmond Road in Jacksonville, according to Glenn Bolick, a state Highway Department spokesman.

Workers are strengthening northbound shoulders to handle traffic while the road is widened and a new Bayou Meto bridge built, Bolick said. Part of the overall Hwy. 67/167 widening project be-tween I-40 and Jacksonville, this $13 million northbound section will be four lanes wide where it includes the merging lane from Hwy. 440 onto Hwy. 67/167.
Weaver-Bailey Contractors of El Paso (White County) is the contractor.

Construction of a new, wider 850-foot long bridge spanning Bayou Meto and its flood plain, is a major contributor to the cost of the project. It will replace the current 175 ft. bridge, Bolick said. The new bridge also will be higher, he said. At one time, it was thought the new bridge would need to be about 1,200 feet and cost about $16 million, but the new design, which complies with FEMA floodplain and backwater requirements, was estimated to cost about $10 million about a year ago.
The three through lanes and the interchange merge lane all will cross the new bridge. The current bridge is wide enough for only the existing two lanes.

Work on the southbound lanes is slated for 2009, about the time work is completed on the northbound segment, Bolick said.
The missing link in widening to three lanes both the north and southbound lanes of Hwy. 67/167 from I-40 to Redmond Road will then be a 1.5 mile segment from Kiehl Avenue to the Hwy. 440 overpass, according to Bolick.