Leader Blues

Monday, February 12, 2007

TOP STORY >>Cabot to pay $250K for road to Wal-Mart

IN SHORT: A city council committee approves a project for a street from Hwy. 5 to the new Wal-Mart, with county paying about $745,000.

Leader staff writer

A committee of Cabot City Council members Thursday night approved paying $250,000 to open the new county road between Highway 5 and the Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The money will come from the $2 million in bond money that taxpayers approved when they extended an existing one-cent sales tax more than a year ago.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams told the committee of aldermen that he had learned this week that the $2 million must be spent within three years.

As originally drafted, the appropriation ordinance the committee unanimously passed to the full council was for $200,000. But Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman asked for an additional $50,000. Troutman said so far his road and bridge fund has been out $595,000 for the new road not including labor and equipment costs.

Since seven of the city’s eight council members were present for the committee meeting, it is unlikely that the ordinance will fail when it goes before the council Feb. 19.

Paving the road with asphalt is expected to cost $250,000, and the bridge with sidewalks over the big ditch near Wal-Mart that the city wants will cost about $150,000 for a total cost of $995,000, not including the county’s labor.

The city’s money will pay for the bridge and $100,000 toward the cost of the asphalt. Troutman has agreed to pay the balance of $150,000 for the asphalt.

“So you’re asking for $250,000 for a million dollar road,” Alderman Ed Long, who chairs the Public Works Committee, said to Troutman. “You’re a hard man to get along with, Judge.”

Troutman said in answer to questions from the committee that he had asked businesses in the commercial development that will be served by the road to contribute to the cost of building it. Of the 27 businesses in the complex only one pledged money for the road, he said. Wal-Mart turned down the request for help, he said, adding that he doesn’t intend to collect the lone $10,000 pledge.

Troutman said Friday that he has already advertised for the bridge. The bid opening will be Feb. 15, he said. The bridge will go in first while the weather is still cold and then the asphalt will go down when it gets warmer.

“My thinking is sometime in May we’ll be riding on that road,” Troutman said. Williams also intends to work with the county to replace the old and dangerously narrow bridges on First Street with culverts.

Troutman, who was turned down last year when he asked former Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh for help with the road to Wal-Mart last year in exchange for the county providing the labor to replace the First Street bridges, said he is grateful for the cooperation he is getting now.

Williams and Troutman also are talking about extending Willie Ray Drive to the Austin interchange. But Troutman said that is a project for next year after the road and bridge fund has replenished.

The joint projects won’t cure the traffic problems in Cabot, Troutman said. But they are a start.