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New Highway Construction Expected to Break Ground in 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - "We have a lot of exciting projects coming online this year in 2018," ArDOT spokesman Danny Straessle said. 

The first big highway project starts on I-630 in Little Rock. 

The 6 lane interstate will be widened to 8 lanes from University to the Big Rock Interchange at I-430. 

 "It sounds like it's going to be a complete congestion nightmare when we go to construction, but actually we're widening the interstate to the outside so we're adding a fourth lane in both directions on the outside of the existing three," Straessle said. 

The I-630 widening project is an extension of the original Big Rock Interchange project from several years ago. Since its construction, the bottleneck moved, instigating the widening project. 

Another state highway plan to break ground in 2018 is I-30 in Saline County. 

The plan to go from a 4 lanes highway to a 6 lane highway is an extension of another recently completed widening project. It ended at Sevier Street in Benton, so the new widening project starts at Sevier Street and goes all the way to the Hot Springs Interchange. 

The two state highway widening projects cost about 200 million dollars together, according to Metroplan. 
It's paid for by the half cent sales tax passed in previous years. 

One project wrapping up this year is also in Hot Springs. The US Highway 70 project will be finishing up this year. 

"Pretty excited about that. It's going to be a great new facility. :11 And the trip to Oaklawn, the trip to the lake, it'll be a breeze," Straessle said. 

From state highways to stop lights, relief is expected this year with the help from new "adaptive signal controls." 

"As you go through successive signals, those signals are communicating with each other and you'll be able to go through those signals without having to stop," Casey Covington, deputy director of Metroplan said.

The locations to receive the new signals include: 
-Maumelle Blvd. in Maumelle and North Little Rock
-University Ave. in Little Rock
-Dave Ward Drive in Conway.

"In a little less cost we can get a lot of benefit from those projects," Covington said. 

Each signal on average costs 500,000 dollars to 1.5 million dollars according to Metroplan. 

Another project expected in 2018 includes the widening of Maryland Ave. from Oneida to Highway 107 in Sherwood. 

Geyer Springs Road will undergo a rail grade separation this year. The construction will allow cars to travel over the railroad tracks instead of being stalled at the tracks if a train comes. It is the 9th of 11 rail grade projects Metroplan approved more than 20 years ago. The final two projects in Mayflower and Jacksonville will begin in 2019. 

Part of Markham Street in Conway will be rebuilt to be more pedestrian and bike-rider friendly along with other upgrades. 

A similar project will be underway in Bryant 

Two projects expected to wrap up in 2018 include the repaving of I-440 where it intersects with I-40 in North Little Rock and completing the portion of Highway 67 in Jacksonville where the Main Street Bridge and Redmond Road Overpass are being replaced. 

"The patience is about to payoff cause we're getting close," Straessle said. 

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