I-540 Section Plans To Be Construction Zone for 18 Months

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Major roadwork is expected to begin Monday (Jan. 28) on I-540 between Highway 22 -- also known as Rogers Avenue -- in Fort Smith to I-40 in Van Buren.

The seven-mile stretch is a bumpy ride with cracks and pot holes.

"It can be dangerous with the pot holes and the traffic," said Angela Bronkhorst. "You have to be careful."

The construction project will provide a new driving surface. Crews will also reconstruct nine bridges and resurface two more. However, during this lengthy process, there will be traffic headaches.

"When you are going from this point to Van Buren, there aren't too many places you can go," said Roy Burgess.

The Arkansas Highway Commission awarded a contract, in the amount of $78.8 million, to Kiewit Infrastructure South Company of Fort Worth, Texas.

"I just hope it gets done fast to make everybody comfortable in the drive," said Patricia Joslin.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane and the highway department suggests drivers take alternate routes.

Molly Cooper, who travels on that section almost daily, said she doesn't know how she can avoid the construction.

"I was thinking of which way to go around and I'll have to think on that," Cooper said.

The speed limit in the work zone will be reduced from 65 miles per hour to 55 miles per hour.

"I know it's going to be kind of a hassle right now, but I'm glad they're redoing it and fixing it," Cooper said.

The Highway Department said this project will improve the quality of the road and increase driver safety.

Drivers look at the long-term benefits.

"Everything we have, isn't always as easy as it seems," Bronkhorst said. "We need to be patient and God willing, we'll have something wonderful."

Increased traffic enforcement is scheduled in this work area and, under Arkansas law, fines are doubled for violations in the work zone.

The project is expected to be completed in mid-2014.

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