Visit El Dorado
Live Here
Do Business Here
Chamber of Commerce
« View All News

Highway officials discuss widening of U.S. 82 west

Posted on November 1, 2016

Published by El Dorado News Times

By Tia Lyons, Staff writer El Dorado News Times

EL DORADO — Representatives of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department were in town earlier this month to present design revisions for a proposed project to widen a six-mile stretch of U.S. 82 west heading into El Dorado.

A couple of days after the AHDT visit, Mark Smith, general manager of the El Dorado Water Utilities, discussed the role of the utilities in relocating water lines to make way for the highway project, which has an approximate start date of 2018.

Highway officials said the project will cover U.S. 82 between Airport Drive and the bypass just east of Wrights Lane.

Preliminary designs call for an expansion with four- and five-lane highway divides that will cross the frontages of several commercial and residential properties along the route.

Smith said the EWU has selected the professional services of Hawkins-Weir Engineers, Inc., to locate the utilities’ infrastructure along the route, identify property owners and property lines that will be affected by the project, and develop drawings for the work.

“The issue will be dealing with the property owners along the way and making sure we’re outside the highway right-of-way,” said Pete Parks, chairman of the El Dorado Water and Sewer Commission.

“It will increase (water) pressure for customers up and down the highway. It’s a really good thing. We’re looking forward to doing that,” Smith said.

The highway project is part of the $1.8 billion Connecting Arkansas Program, a package of highway enhancements that are designed to improve connectivity and increase capacity on highways throughout the state.

Smith said the estimated cost to the water utilities is $125,000, which is less than the anticipated costs of another state-sponsored highway improvement project for which water lines are going to have to be moved.

The EWU has identified 37 easements along the five- to six-mile segment of Arkansas 335 between U.S. 82 and Arkansas 7.

“We’ve contacted all but two property owners, and we have a handful of easements signed,” Smith said.

Hawkins-Weir is also working on that project, and Smith said the EWU is partnering with the matter with other utilities, including Entergy, who was the first to obtain its easements in the area.

“It’s turned into a time-consuming project. We feel like that since their our customers, the utility ought to try and contact them first instead of attorneys or an engineering firm,” Smith said.

The highway improvements will entail resurfacing the road, adding shoulders and mitigating a couple of sharp curves.

Union County Judge Mike Loftin has said the AHTD will turn the road

over to the county once the project is completed.

The estimated cost of the job is $1 million, and Smith said that with an 85 percent reimbursement from the state, EWU’s cost will be about $150,000.

“We put $170,000 in the budget for that,” he said, adding that the line-relocation work is expected to go out to bid soon.

In other business, Smith said the EWU is working with local architect Blake Dunn on a revision of proposed plans to remodel the utility office on North Washington.

EWU previously purchased property next door, and the lot has been cleared. Smith said the lot will likely not be included in the remodeling project.

“We’ve made a few small changes. We’re going to continue cleaning it off and put down some grass to make it look nice, but I don’t think it’ll be part of the remodel,” he said.