|Updated: 4/24/2012 5:36 pm
||Published: 4/24/2012 1:58 pm
FAULKNER COUNTY, AR - The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department is concerned about traffic and safety along I-40.
Recognizing the needs of traffic, the department studied the highly traveled 23 mile section between Conway and North Little Rock. To improve traffic flow that section is being widened.
Construction crews are already working on the first phase of the widening project along I-40 between Conway and North Little Rock.
The goal is to make the four lane interstate six lanes and reduce traffic congestion from the 430-I-40 interchange all the way to Conway.
Emanuel Banks, Assistant chief Engineer of Operations with the Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department says the western end of the job has 30,000 vehicles per day going through there. "In the eastern side where it ties into 430, more than 70,000 vehicles travel through per day."
April is Work Zone Safety Awareness Month. Since crews will be on the widening project for so long in such a busy area, the Highway Department wants to make sure drivers are paying attention.
Danny Moore is with the Arkansas chapter of the American Traffic Safety Services Association. Moore says in 2010, 32,885 people lost their lives in traffic fatalities in the country. "More than 500 of those deaths happened in work zones."
There have already been several crashes on the current construction project and the Highway Department doesn't want anyone else getting hurt. Drivers are urged to slow down, be cautious, and allow for extra travel time.
The current construction phase started in January and should be complete in the spring of 2014. The final three phases of the widening project will go to bid next year, and the entire project will be complete by the end of 2016.
The cost of the first construction job is nearly $45 million. The rest of the I-40 widening project is estimated at more than $90 million.
The City of Conway has a project scheduled next summer for a new I-40 interchange to the proposed western loop. The City of Maumelle is working on plans for an I-40 interchange near the site of the old eastbound rest area near I-430.