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Construction crews set to start I-630 widening project next Monday

Construction crews have already started putting machinery in place to begin the process of widening I-630 from University Avenue to the Big Rock Interchange next week. (Photo: KATV)

Construction crews will begin turning dirt a week from Monday on a $84.7 million project to widen I-630 from the Big Rock Interchange all the way to University Avenue.

The project will increase the number of travel lanes from six to eight throughout the 2.5 mile stretch destined for widening.

Manhattan Road & Bridge, the contractor awarded the I-630 widening project, has started running electronic billboard advertisements alerting commuters to the project start date - July 16th.

Mark Windle, vice president of Arkansas operations for Manhattan Road & Bridge, said the first benchmark that needs to be met is the reconstruction of the Hughes Street overpass.

Workers will have to tear down the bridge and rebuild a new one over I-630, in order to accommodate for the new two extra lanes of traffic that will pass underneath. Windle said the process of shutting down the Hughes Street overpass will start later next week.

"About Friday is when we're thinking right now," said Windle. "We'll close the traffic off and start tearing down that bridge, and then from that day we have 96 days - that's calendar days - to take that down and build a new bridge."

For every day after 96 days, MR&B will be fined $3,800 for not having the bridge back open to traffic. The incentive also works the other way, with MR&B getting paid $3,800 for every day the bridge is complete ahead of schedule.

"Our established detour route - if you use the Hughes Street overpass - is to take Markham to get to Mississippi or take 12th Street to get to Mississippi," said Danny Straessle, spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

Straessle said the project will also require the reconstruction of the Rodney Parham overpass and Rock Creek overpass in order to extend the bridges far enough to accommodate the eight lanes that will ride underneath them.

The entire project was bid by MH&B to be complete within 590 days of the start of construction. Any day over that will again come at a cost to MR&B.

"Those days are valued at $198,800 a day," said Windle, stressing the potential loss for his company if the project isn't completed on-time.

Windle mentioned the project incentive also runs other way, with extra dollars being paid to Manhattan Road & Bridge if the project is completed on time.

ARDOT has placed two mobile cameras near the Hughes Street overpass to show the progress being made on the bridge reconstruction. Delays are expected during bridge reconstruction, with likely lane closures near the effected overpasses.

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