Leader Blues

Friday, March 28, 2008

TOP STORY > > Funding for Sherwood corridor

Leader staff writer

Part of the $4 million in federal funds to buy property for the proposed North Belt will be used to buy needed land near Hwy. 107 and Brockington Road.

Randy Ort, a spokesman with the state Highway Department, said the money would be used to preserve the corridor for the North Belt in those areas that are being threatened by development.

Hwy. 107 and Brockington Road are one of those areas. Sherwood is holding off approving plans for development in that area until the federal government purchases what it needs for the North Belt, Ort explained.

A similar situation occurred back in 1994 when Sherwood development was approved through the area of the proposed bypass. Ort said the Highway Department was at the point of getting the project onto Metroplan’s transportation im-provement program list back then when the development occurred setting everything back 14 years.

The project is now on Metroplan’s TIP list and that allows us to go out and purchase areas that we need to protect the route, Ort said.

Metroplan, along with Sherwood has checked off on the proposed route for the 12.3-mile leg that will carry the bypass from Highway 67/167 westward along Kellogg Creek, over Highway 107 near Brockington to I-40 near Crystal Hill.

Jim McKenzie, with Metroplan, said with Sherwood making changes to its street use map to allow for the bypass, and the route being tweaked a little bit because of the lead mines just north of Sherwood, the project should start to move along. “We are expecting the Federal Highway Administration to sign off onthe route pretty quickly.” With that approval in sight, the state Highway Department has asked for $4 million in federal money to start buying the right-of-way that is “in danger of being developed” and that may prevent the highway from proceeding.

Ort said once the federal government signs off on the proposed route, which should be this summer, work can begin on the final design.

The Highway Department will hold hearings on the design so residents along the route will know where they stand.

The cost of construction of the second leg is estimated at $300 million, which does not include any money needed to acquire the land. The five-mile leg of the North Belt, stretching from I-40 and going northwesterly over Hwy. 161 to Hwy. 67/167, was completed about six years ago at a cost of $63 million.

Once the North Belt is extended westerly from Hwy. 67/167, then the Dupree family can proceed with its legacy plan—a large-scale development in the beanfield area of apartments, homes, shops and more.

Once the North Belt crosses Hwy. 107 then development in that area can start.

Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hill-man said highway officials and developers have worked out a plan that will limit the size of the proposed interchange in the area, and maximize the commercial potential.

Two major residential subdivisions and a 230,000-square-foot retail center are planned for the Hwy. 107/Brockington Road area.