Marmaduke Hosts Meeting on 49-34 Intersection Improvements

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Prior to the start of their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 17, the Marmaduke city council hosted a public meeting to discuss future plans and project goals for the highway 49/34 intersection.

Due to increased traffic flow during certain times of day, the two-way stop at the busy intersection is not allowing traffic to flow through as efficiently as the city desires. In response, two concepts were brought before a crowd of about 53 people.

Brad Smithee, district engineer from AR DOT, presented the two concepts before those attending the meeting, with Alan Walter, district construction engineer from AR DOT, assisting to answer questions.

The first concept presented is creating a larger intersection. However, this would require a removal of at least one rental house, and the nearby church would be required to close its doors and move to a different location.

The second concept is to create a mini roundabout of about six feet in diameter and about 90 feet diagonally. Under this pan, there would be a six-inch elevated circle in the center of the roundabout. This would allow large trucks or tractors to safely drive over the circle if there were no other vehicles around. The experts noted it would not cause damage to the vehicle or the circle, though large vehicles should be able to drive through the roundabout like other cars and trucks.

The highway department officials noted this plan would include the addition of at least four crosswalks, and four to eight lights, for both pedestrians and oncoming cars.

The state officials noted this concept still requires the removal of one rental property, but would not require the church to move.

All of this is concept, ideas. They are not complete yet, and can be tweaked and changed,” Smithee explained to those on hand

Mayor Steve Dixon adds he is “glad people [of the Marmaduke community] are showing interest” and that he, along with Smithee and Walter, are looking for “input from the public.”

During the discussion it was questioned whether a traffic signal could be installed instead, because it might save time and be less costly. Smithee explained that a signal does not accomplish what the goal is, and that there is not enough traffic to merit a light.

Marmaduke's postal employees also questioned how the construction would affect the post office. In response, Smithee explained that it appears the north driveway would close, and that the flagpole as well as a few other items may have to be relocated. However, Smithee could not state exactly what changes would need to be made, as there is not yet a detailed map of what the completed project would look like.

While the second concept would not require the church to close, it may hinder where the handicap are usually dropped off, though this will not be fully known until a detailed sketch is produced.

Smithee explains that, if the consensus were to proceed with concept two, a group would work out a detailed design of the concept so the citizen's questions could be more efficiently answered.

During the discussion it was also noted because of the addition of sidewalks in front of residences around the intersection, some properties may be affected by losing part of their yard or a tree.

Smithee also explained that in projects such as this, a team looks to the future to try to solve problems before they occur. Based on earlier efforts the earliest construction could begin, Smithee estimated, would be 2020. This will also allow at least one more meeting in which citizens will be able to view the detailed design, ask more questions and get more definitive answers. At this point planners and local officials make any final tweaks, if they decide to go through with it.

State Representative Joe Jett attended the meeting, and commented, “whatever you [the citizens of Marmaduke] decide to do, I'm good with it” and stated that he appreciated Smithee and Walter for the work they had already put into the project.

Dixon commented, on concept one, that he believed he could speak for the entire city council when he says “no one is a proponent of taking out a church,” and that the goal is to improve traffic flow.

Mayor Dixon took a vote for three different options twice. The first time, there were no votes for concept one, around half voted for concept two, and around 12 voted to do nothing. The second time, there were still no votes for concept one, around the same for concept two, and only five wanted to take no action.

After the second vote, Dixon asked who would like the team to proceed with concept two and create a detailed design, and the majority of those in attendance voted for this option.

Regular Council Meeting

During the regular meeting of the Marmaduke City Council, Mayor Steve Dixon addressed a previous suggestion to hire another person to do the mowing during the summer. This would allow the full-time maintenance workers more free time to tend to other duties. He indicated Jeremy Horton offered to mow almost everywhere needed, including around Fire Station 1 with the exception of inside the chain fence. Horton proposed to do the work for $250 each time he mows, using his own equipment and fuel. The other exclusions included ditches and sewer pond. The council briefly discussed the idea, and unanimously voted to contract with Horton to mow during the summer.

In addition to this, the council unanimously approved of an ordinance which permits contracting with city employees. This was tied to Horton's request to mow the park and lawn of city hall, based on the fact he is a city employee and requires the council to approve an ordinance to that effect.

The ordinance was introduced, and was approved on the first reading. Council then waived the stipulation it be waived on three seperate occasions, and approved the measure, title only.

In other business, mayor Dixon updated the board on previously-approved projects. He indicated work on the sidewalk from Main Street to the Dollar General store should start soon, the fire station's training room is said to be coming along nicely, the fire truck from Paragould is in Marmaduke's possession and the mayor is working on finding funds for the new defibrillators.

Also, the board unanimously approved the minutes from the previous meeting as well as the treasurer's report. Fire Chief Dowell presented Dixon the quarterly report. He also responded to a request to see the number of runs made outside of the city of Marmaduke as well as how many people went on the runs.

All members were present with the exception of council members Keith DeFries and Chuck Long.

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