Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

TOP STORY >>Library contract signals start of construction

By JEFFREY SMITH
Leader staff writer

Jacksonville’s new library is closer to construction with a signing of the building contract this week, Mayor Tommy Swaim said at the Jacksonville Rotary Club meeting on Monday.

Swaim also discussed forming a separate school district, making access roads along Hwy. 67/167 one way, improving alternate routes in case of an accident along the freeway, adding more space in the county jail, accepting bids on a police and fire training center and finding tenants for the old Wal-Mart building.

The $3.6 million library contract is with Wilkins Construction of North Little Rock. Funds for the library will come from a $2.5 million bond issue, as well as $450,000 from the Central Arkansas Library System, $400,000 from capital improvement funds and $300,000 from the sale of the old library building.

First United Methodist Church is a prospective buyer for the building.

Swaim said the library “will be completed one year after the official start date.” The library will be 13,000 square feet. The old Nixon library has only 9,265 square feet.

Jacksonville is providing the facilities, while the Central Arkansas Library System provides the staff and material in the library.
To save money, the city has changed carpet styles and lighting fixtures and will use less expensive choices for the interior.
The library, to be built on Main Street across from Jacksonville Shopping Center, will still have a park area and gazebo.

Also at the Rotary meeting, Swaim said the state Highway Department has approved making both John Harden Drive and T.P. White Drive between the James Street overpass and Vandenberg Boulevard one-way access roads when funding is available.
Swaim said he’d like to see one-way access roads extended all the way to Main Street.

John Harden Drive eventually will be one-way south and T.P. White one-way north, with a flyover turnaround at James Street allowing motorists on John Harden to get easily over to T.P. White and another flyover or cross under at Vandenberg to allow motorists on T.P. White to get over to John Harden.

Motorists would be expected to adapt quickly to one-way frontage roads and turnarounds as they have farther south along Hwy. 67/167 between Wildwood and Trammel Roads and McCain.

Pointing to the fiery tractor-trailer accident two weeks ago on Hwy. 67/167, which brought traffic to a crawl for several hours, Swaim said he and his staff are looking at alternate evacuation routes in case an evacuation is ordered. Jacksonville residents could use Military Road, Hwy. 107, Toneyville Road and Hwy. 161 into the North Little Rock area in case of an accident, he said.

Swaim also discussed a planned police and fire-training center to be built off Marshall Road near the recycling park. He said the city would soon choose an architect for the project.

The center would have a fire-drill tower, a concrete defensive driving pad, water pumping testing station for fire trucks and a police firing range.

The city now uses North Little Rock’s firefighting facility for training and parking lots for driving practice. Funds for the center are being collected from a one-cent sales tax.

He said the training would help the city, and he hopes it could serve as a regional training facility.