Highway 62 widening project to impact five businesses, home

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

BERRYVILLE ---- Five business and at least one home will be substantially impacted by the widening of U.S. Highway 62 east of Berryville, as proposed by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD).

The revelation that buildings were within the proposed right-of-way was a complete reversal of comments made last week by a highway department official, who said only one vacant home might be impacted.

At a public involvement session on Thursday, Lynn Malbrough, with the AHTD, said a public relations person must have accessed the wrong project folder when passing along information to the press. He said it was a misunderstanding.

He was there with other highway officials to answer questions and provide maps depicting the proposed route.

According to those maps, buildings that may fall into the "relocation" category include the Sunrise Motel, Hog Country auto sales, a residence at the junction of Hwy. 62 and 21 South, the Farm Bureau building, Berryville Veterinary Clinic and Randy's Towing.

According to the proposed route, portions of these buildings will fall into the highway department's right-of-way.

Highway officials said there are two programs to help people with relocation. The first is compensation program that pays fair market value. The second is a relocation assistance program that helps with the move.

Also impacted by the proposed route are parking areas at St. Anne's Catholic Church, Home Town Health Care, Carroll County Chrysler, Davis-Barr Chevrolet-Pontiac and signage and parking at the First Assembly of God, where the public involvement session was held.

Raymond and Berniece Biggerstaff, whose home is located along the highway, just west of Randy's Towing, spoke to officials about their concerns.

They said that when the road is wet, cars slip off the existing highway in front of their home and they fear they'll be in greater danger when the highway encroaches even closer. They also asked why highway officials didn't route the roadway to avoid their home, especially when there are no buildings on the north side of the roadbed.

Officials said nothing has been set in stone at this point, that they were seeking public input before proceeding.

The plan is to widen Hwy. 62, from the Sunrise Motel to a point two miles eastward. Four 12-foot-wide lanes are proposed, along with an 11-foot-wide center lane and eight-foot wide shoulders.

In Berryville city limits, plans call for signalization of the intersection of Hwy. 62 and Hwy. 21 South, plus curbs, gutters and sidewalks along the one mile stretch that lies in city limits. Outside of city limits, the eight-foot-wide shoulders will be paved.

One highway department official said eventually there will be five lane highway from Berryville to Alpena. The widening of U.S. Highway 412 is also planned.

Asked about the towns of Green Forest and Alpena where widening of the existing roadbed would interfere with business establishments, he said bypasses were a possibility.

Citizen turnout for the public information session was considered "pretty good," said Stella Loya, an environmental analyst with AHTD.

Eighty-one people signed in, 19 comment forms were submitted, and other comment forms were taken home for submission at a later date.

"The session ended on a positive note," said Loya, "even though there were some against the proposal. We'll look at the comment forms and especially at those from the people who are affected.

"Normally," she continued, "after we've looked at the forms, if changes are warranted, we'll come back with a revised edition."

She said if people are generally satisfied with the revised plan, a public hearing will be scheduled to solicit final comments before the job is put out for bid.

For more information about the proposed project, or to obtain a comment form, call Loya at (501) 569-2284; Lynn Malbrough at 569-2285, or Rebecca Robnett at 569-4245.

Citizen comment forms will be accepted during the 15 days following the session.

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