ArDOT Hosts Meeting on Proposed Piggott Improvements

Friday, July 6, 2018
This image shows the addition of the mini-roundabout to the intersection of North Third Avenue and West Jackson, in Piggott, and the impact it would have on the surrounding properties.
TD photo/Tim Blair

The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT), the state entity formerly known as the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD), hosted a public meeting on Tuesday, June 26, concerning the long-range highway plans for the city of Piggott. At issue were improvements to four intersections within the city, with the plan for addition of roundabouts at three of those. During the meeting, which was open several hours to the public at the Piggott Community Center, a variety of issues were addressed by local residents with responses from the state officials.

“When I first went to work for the highway department at Paragould over 20 years ago, one of the first projects I worked on was to survey these intersections,” District 10 District Engineer Brad Smithee noted during the meeting.

The problems with truck traffic through Piggott, most notably along U.S. Highway 62 West, has prompted city leaders to seek a remedy for decades. The primary problem areas include the intersection at the stop light, where U.S. 49 and U.S. 62 meet, along with the intersections at North Third Avenue and West Jackson; West Jackson Street and North Scurlock and North Scurlock and East North Street.

In response to the most recent calls for help from the city, state officials proposed widening the intersection at the stop light, and removing some of the obstacles. As for the other three, they proposed the construction of three mini-roundabouts—one lane traffic circles designed to maintain a steady flow of traffic.

“These are one-lane roundabouts, they won't take up as much room and the center is actually only raised a bit,” Smithee explained. “It is relatively flat and is only defined by the curbing around the outside.”

He indicated the roundabouts were designed in such a manner to allow larger trucks and farm equipment to cut across if needed, while still providing for traffic going in the other direction.

During the meeting Smithee, and other officials with the department, field questions from the public about the amount of land needed, and how the roundabouts would impact their day-to-day lives, homes and yards.

Based on the ArDOT illustrations, very little additional space would be needed for the installation of the roundabouts—with most of the land already included in the state right-of-way. At the corner of West Jackson and North Scurlock a small parcel may be acquired, although planners are still unsure if it will come from the south or north side of the highway.

A similar plan was presented to Marmaduke city leaders recently, after they sought help with the flow of traffic at the intersection of U.S. 49 and Arkansas 34.

Smithee also addressed needs at the stop light, noting the movement of utility poles and the existing traffic control lights would widen the intersection greatly. Again, this would be accomplished within the state highway right-of-way, which extends from the center of the roadway.

All four of the projects, and several others, may be found in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program for 2019-2022. The complete document may be viewed at www.ardot.gov/stip/stip.aspx

In addition to the intersection improvements in Piggott, scheduled for 2020, there are a number of other efforts which will have an impact on local residents and motorists.

Rehabilitation of the approach and structures, which could include the entire bridge, are planned for the Big Slough Ditch and Cottonwood Slough, along Highway 139 in Clay County. Also earmarked are the Highway 141 crossings of Ditch #10 and Little Cache River Ditch. All of these are also planned for 2019, 2020 or 2021.

In addition to the intersection improvements in Marmaduke, a majoring widening project for U.S. Highway 49 is planned. The 2.07 mile stretch of Highway 49 from CR 845 to Highway 135, in Greene County, is the first section slated for major widening, with the work expected to be started in 2019. This will extend the improvements from the intersection of 49 and Highway 135 to the Utility Trailer facility on the north edge of the city.

The second part of the effort is earmarked for 2022 and calls for a five million dollar project to complete phase one of the plan to widen the highway from Paragould to Marmaduke, encompassing about 8.64 miles of the busy regional artery.

Public comments on all the projects is currently being sought, and may be submitted at the ArDOT website or by contacting the regional office in Paragould at 870 239-9511.

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