July 30, 2008 Edition

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Meeting held to discuss
widening 63 to Portia



Lawrence County Judge Alex Latham and Joe Barnett, district engineer with the Arkansas State Highway Department, were among those in attendance at the Public Involvement Meeting in Portia on Thursday to discuss the proposed widening of Highway 63 from Hoxie to Portia.
TD Photo ~ Gloria Wilkerson
Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department held a Public Involvement Meeting at the Portia Community Center on Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. to discuss plans for improvements to Highway 63.

Improvement plans call for widening 3.3 miles of Highway 63 to five lanes, extending from Portia eastward to Highway 63B near Hoxie.

The public was invited to view displays of the proposed project, ask questions and offer comments. A project map of the property affected by the proposed widening allowed landowners and citizens to see if or how their property would be involved. Members of the Highway Department were on hand to answer questions and hear concerns.

Those attending were given forms to fill out asking if they feel there is a need for the proposed road widening, if there are any historical sites, cemeteries, etc. in the project area, and if there are any environmental constraints such as endangered species, hazardous waste sites, existing or former landfills or parks and public land in the vicinity of the project that the engineers need to know about. The form also asks for suggestions that would make the proposed project better serve the needs of the community.

Joe Barnett, district engineer with the Highway Department, said they will consider comments received from the public before they move forward with the actual design.

"When the design is finished, we will acquire the right-of-way and then take bids on the work. Then the work will begin," Barnett said.

The tentative letting date is Sept. 2009, and the project work should be completed in Oct. 2010.

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