U.S. 62 widening survey begins in Green Forest

Monday, September 11, 2006

GREEN FOREST -- Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department surveyors are preparing to widen U.S. Hwy. 62 to four lanes, extending from the east side of Green Forest to the Twin Bridges. However, the plans to run a four lane through the city of Green Forest have been halted because of structure concerns, said David Nilles, public relations official with the AHTD.

He said the widening job on Hwy. 62 inside Green Forest from Ark. Hwy. 311 to Ark. Hwy. 103 South was listed in the 2005-2007 Preliminary Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), which is produced every three years by federal mandate and includes funding projections and capital improvement projects in the upcoming period.

However, the project was not added in the 2007-2010 STIP.

"It changed because of the possibility that they are not going to be able to go through Green Forest because of its structure," said Nilles.

He said they might have to design a project to go around the city "and if that's the case, it will take more funding than is available."

If the city structure does not allow for the widening of Hwy. 62 through Green Forest, then the project will go through an environmental assessment, then multiple options will be examined, and a public involvement meeting would be planned for Green Forest residents, said Nilles.

He said the AHTD will then select a different route and draw a design.

"So, in the meantime, we decided to get started on the east of town," said Nilles, referring to the widening of Hwy. 62 starting from the Twin Bridges extending west to Green Forest. "This is Phase I of the widening project that will go all the way to Alpena," said Nilles.

This phase of the project is planned to get underway the first of the year, he said.

Despite the rumors regarding the possible condemnation of buildings in the area, including Tom s Place liquor store and a near-by residential cabin, Nilles said there was no certainty that those two structures would have to be taken.

"It is still questionable until we get a specific design," said Nilles. "We are 70 percent through with drainage and utility surveying, then we will start on our parcel surveying."

He added that any building condemned for the new construction would be compensated with a fair market value.

Another project that was added to the 2007-2010 STIP is a 10-mile resurfacing job on Hwy. 62 between Green Forest and Alpena.

"There is not a time line or set date for this project," explained Nilles. "The funding needs to be put into place before we put it out to bids. "

According to highway department officials, projects included in the STIP don't necessarily get developed.

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