October 10, 2007 Edition

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Though unseen, construction presses
northward on U.S. Hwy. 67 upgrade

Progress on the upgrading of U.S. Hwy. 67 to four lanes is quite visible from this overpass on Hwy. 226. The site, looking north, is approximately six miles east of Swifton and the existing two-lane Hwy. 67. Don House (right) of Walnut Ridge, a member of the Arkansas Good Roads Transportation Council, and Wayne Bratton of Bloomsdale Excavating look over the progress.
John Bland

It is sometimes hard to realize the existence of something one cannot see, and this is likely the case regarding progress being made on upgrading U.S. Hwy. 67 in Northeast Arkansas.

Though not visible from the present two-lane highway, construction on the new highway corridor is pressing northward beyond Newport.

For motorists driving on Hwy. 67 between Little Rock and the Hoxie-Walnut Ridge area, the four lanes in use still end at Newport. However, paving has been done on an eight-mile stretch of the new four-lane route from Newport north to State Hwy. 37, due east of Tuckerman, said Joe Barnett of Paragould, District 10 highway engineer.

Dirt work on the extended four lanes is nearly complete to a point about 15 miles north of Newport and six miles east of Swifton, just north of State Hwy. 226.

Additionally, the Arkansas Highway Department has recently opened bids for the paving of the four-lane upgrade extending from Hwy. 37 up to Hwy. 226, reported Don House of Walnut Ridge, a member of the Arkansas Good Roads Transportation Council.

Four lanes to Hwy. 226
expected to open 2009-10

Barnett said the paving project from Hwy. 37 to Hwy. 226 is 7.2 miles long and will cost $19.8 million. That paving should begin this fall and take from two to three years to complete.

When paving is complete, the new four lanes will be opened to Hwy. 226. This section is expected to open in late 2009 or early 2010.

Hwy. 226, which links the Swifton and Tuckerman area to Jonesboro, will also be upgraded from the new four-lane highway east to Gibson, on the outskirts of Jonesboro. This will be a divided four-lane road with a partially controlled access.

Another bid to be opened soon is for earthwork and the building of small bridge structures or culverts on the 6.4 miles of the Hwy. 67 upgrade, from Hwy. 226 north to Hwy. 230, east of Alicia.

When the upgrade to Hwy. 230 is completed, only one segment will remain before the four-lanes reach Hwy. 63 and the Hoxie-Walnut Ridge bypass. In late 2008, the Highway Department is scheduled to begin the process of acquiring right of ways, building fences and structure work for this 9.9-mile segment.

Wayne Bratton of Bloomsdale Excavating, based in Bloomsdale, Mo., has been involved in the Hwy. 67 upgrade extending to Hwy. 226 near Swifton. Bratton said that new roads, such as Hwy. 67, are now being built using GPS (Global Positioning System) technology. With GPS, no stakes are needed to layout the new road.

Bratton also added that a two-foot bed of sand is being laid under the roadbed before paving begins.

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