LOWELL (KFSM) - A part of Interstate 49 from Wagon Wheel Road to AR-264 near Lowell that has been under construction since December will be demolished and redone. State Highway officials said the concrete barrier separating southbound and northbound lanes was not constructed properly and must be rebuilt.
The $14.5 million project began in 2013, and Arkansas State Highway spokesperson Danny Straessle said when it is complete the interstate will be widened from four lanes to six.
Straessle said a 1200 foot section of the barrier will be rebuilt correctly at the contractor's expense --- not taxpayer's. He said the contractor overseeing the job is APAC Central of Fayetteville. He said the contractor responsible for building the concrete barrier is Gerdan Slipforming, Inc. of Cape Girardeau, MO. Straessle said pouring the concrete barrier can be tricky and sometimes crews run into problems.
"You don't like these things to happen, but they do and it's just the way construction goes sometimes," he said.
Straessle said reconstructing the concrete wall will not push back the project's deadline of January 1, 2015. Aleah Fisher uses that stretch of I-49 every day to get to work, and she said she is worried construction will stretch into winter weather.
"As soon as the snow starts coming it's going to just completely make it worse," Fisher said.
She said the area always gets congested around rush-hour, and says she has to use exit 78 (AR-264) every day to get to and from her job at J.B. Hunt.
"It adds another 20 minutes to my drive, and I don't live far, I live in Fayetteville and to get here it takes twice as long because everything is so backed up by the time you get on the highway," Fisher said.
Officials said once the project is complete, I-49 will be better equipped to handle the busy stretch of road. Straessle said this is not the first time an area of the road work from Wagon Wheel Road to AR-264 has had to be redone.
In the spring of 2014, part of the footing of a wall south of the concrete barrier had to be torn down and rebuilt as part of a separate project for the future Springdale Bypass.