Leader Blues

Friday, September 26, 2008

TOP STORY > >Metroplan is backing three road projects

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

Two jobs, one in Sherwood and one in Jacksonville, are scheduled to go to bid after Oct. 1, according to Richard Magee, assistant director of Metroplan.

The four-laning of Brockington Road from Maryland Avenue to Kiehl Avenue will be constructed with about $4.6 million in federal funds and 20 percent local match, Magee said.

Also let to bid will be engineering, purchase of right of way and moving utilities for widening Graham Road from Oak Street to Loop Road. That will cost an estimated $1.7 million, he said.

The board authorized adding a new Hwy. 67/167 interchange between Austin and Cabot to meet up with the new rail road overpass running from Hwy. 367 to Hwy. 38.

Known as a rail-grade separation, the overpass and approaches are already under construction.

Cabot has $500,000 toward its study for alignment, firming up the concept defining the specific alignment for the new interchange. Construction awaits other funds, probably earmarked federal funds.

The federal Highway Trust Fund, from which most federal highway funding comes, had run dry, but Congress recently transferred $8 billion from the general fund, forestalling a 30 percent cut in funding, according to Jim McKenzie, Metroplanís executive director.

He said staff would present a budget reflecting full federal funding for the 2009 fiscal year.

The proposed budget will reflect roughly a 5 percent payroll increase over 2008 and an overall increase of 1.6 percent to the overhead budget, he said. In other business, trip mileages have been added, at the request of North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays, to the regional bikeway map being printed by Metroplan, according to executive director Jim McKenzie.

He told board members that advertising on the map would defray about 30 percent of the printing costs.

The map will be shipped to the printer by the end of September and should be back within 30 days, in time for the National
Trails Symposium being held in Little Rock on Nov. 15.