Concrete Barrier On I-49 To Be Demolished And Redone; Drivers Say They’re Frustrated

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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.

17 comments

  • Sean

    The travel between Fayetteville and Rogers is just downright dangerous right now, and has been for months maybe years.

  • Michael

    One of the biggest problems on I-49 is that people drive way to fast. The speed limit is 70 mph, however, if you try to drive 70, you will be run over by just about everyone else on the road. Even in the construction zones, where the speed is dropped to 60 or 55 mph in Fayetteville, people are still driving 70+. I realize that everyone is going to over react to this post but if everyone would just slow down a bit and follow the set limit, I do believe traffic would flow much smoother. Instead of cars/trucks dodging back in forth, trying to run 90 and then clipping someone and flipping their car or someone else’s vehicle. Slow down and drive defensively and we’ll all get where we are going- Safely.

    • Larry

      Michael, I agree about the construction zones, but in general the real danger on 49 is dodging the cars going 55-60 NOT in construction zones.

  • Larry

    It took 1200 feet to see the problem? Why not after the first 200-300? It’s not the Greart Wall of China. Have they not done this once or twice already? For them to get it this screwed up points directly to the Arkansas highway dept.

  • Frustrated

    I work at JB Hunt as well and I am so frustrated by the time I get to work daily and I know my teammates are sick of hearing me and when I am not complaining about it they can just tell by the distress look on my face as well as all the other aggrevated people that live in Fayetteville going north. Also, if you are not going to go the speed limit in the construction zone or not in the construction zone please take another route so we can at least keep the flow halfway going. Almost off soap box and quit slamming on your brakes to look at the person with the flat, the policeman writing a ticket, a fender bender etc. It is OK you are not involved so keep moving.

  • Jeremy

    I have seen multiple sections of this wall to be demolished and repoured several times already. How has APAC not removed this subcontractor from the project already? I say bring in a competent concrete crew, and send the bill to Gerdan Slipforming.

  • FEDUP

    The fact that there hasn’t been a fataity along this stretch is amazing. It takes considerably longer, however I travel the back roads.

  • Michael

    Actually, there has been at least one, and I think 2 fatalities along this stretch of highway. Last year or early this year, a vehicle had been involved in an accident and a fella tried to cross the lanes of travel and was struck by another car and killed. I see some really great points and I agree that going too slow is a problem as well as going to fast, both situations cause their own problems. I have been involved in both situations, trying to obey the speed limit and not have that little light flash at me while having someone in a Toyota Echo trying to crawl up my tailpipe to clearing the construction and the person in front not realizing that the speed limit has returned to normal. But, the bigger problem that I witness everyday is those who think the road belongs to them and to heck with anyone else. If everyone was just a bit more respectful to their fellow driver, drove somewhat closer to the set speed limit and did not try to hog the left lane or run over the car in front of them; I-49 would be a much better road.

  • David

    I just wish people would move to the left when I approach there rear bumper doing 90 I have actually been pulled over for doing 98 mph passing cars doing 60 in the fast lane the officer let me go when I told him I had been following these idiots for 3 miles

    • Michael

      All the same, you do not need to be running 90+ on the highway. Driving that fast, on this congested road is why there are so many accidents. If you want to race, then take it to a race track where all of the vehicles are moving the same speed. When you come up on a car and you are running 90+ then what happens most often is the faster moving vehicle starts weaving in and out of traffic. One of those times when you weave, it happens and you clip another vehicle and now everyone is stopped. The point is slow down, the road is not your personal property, we are all just trying to get our destination, safely.

      • Alex Stillwell

        The statistically safest highway in the world is the German Autobahn–on which there is no posted speed limit for non-Comercial vehicles. A large variation in traffic speed (in Germany Comercial vehicles are limited to 80 kph, busses to 100 kph, and private drivers regularly cruise at 120-150 kph or 80-110 mph) accompanied by a commitment to the legal passing procedure (entering the left lane, passing, and immediately reentering the right lane) is the safest way to travel on a highway. Arguing that it is safe for everyone to travel at approximately the same speed, such that it is difficult to create separation between vehicles, is asinine and dangerous. Highway speed limits do not save lives. Driver attentiveness and overall skill saves lives.

  • Michael

    Alex, that is great if you are in Germany and driving on the Autobahn. But you aren’t, you are in NW Arkansas and driving on I-49; where speed limits are 70 for cars and 65 for trucks. If you really want to drive a road with no limits, then go to Germany and drive on their Autobahn, or perhaps Montana is it, where the speed limit is “reasonable and prudent.” Texas allows for 75 on some of their roads and we are still stuck at 70. Now, to your statement about being difficult to create a separation is a bit odd. We all know that variations in vehicles will create this “separation” that you are talking about, cars will accelerate faster than another, wheel diameter and drag and wind resistance and so on and so on… The point I am trying to make is that if the limit is set to 70 and most traffic is cruising along at 75, why does John Doe, feel that he has to run through traffic like it’s his own personal race track? It is a plain and simple argument, if it were not that simple, then we should have a graduated driving system. A system where you can prove your driving skill every morning and be given some electronic sticker on your “car” that says how fast you can drive that day. On days that you exhibit enough skill, you get a green sticker and can drive like Dale, on days that you are ill, you get a yellow sticker and can only drive 65. You may be onto something there…

    It’s really plain and simple, Arkansas says we can travel at 70 mph; not 80, not 90 or faster. I’d rather travel towards my destination at 70 than be stuck in bumper to bumper traffic for an hour because somebody wrecked, flipped, spun around or what not because they were going too fast. Wouldn’t you?

  • Tony

    If you think traffic runs fast in construction zones, you ought to view it from a construction worker’s perspective , standing 5 feet away from 70 mph bumpers.

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