Bypass opening delayed, other projects proceed

A work crew from API Construction Co. cuts the slope of the embankment on Highway 49 North at the old Paragould Auto Auction. The action is part of the widening project of the highway between Highway 135 and 12th Avenue.

Opening of the Highway 412 West bypass is now set for Friday, Oct. 9, at 11 a.m.

The bypass will open officially with a ribbon-cutting at the eastern end of the western bypass at its junction with Highway 49 South. The original date was Oct. 7, but according to both Paragould Mayor Mike Gaskill and District 10 Engineer Brad Smithee of the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT), the date has been changed to permit remarks by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

In his remarks, the governor may be expected to cite the Highway 412 bypass as an example of what the half-cent sales tax for roads has been able to provide.

“And with the bypass, truck drivers on 412 will now encounter only three traffic lights,” said Gaskill, “one at 14th Avenue at the east end of town, one at 49 South and one at 72nd Street.”

The tax is scheduled to end on June 30, 2023 unless voters renew it by the passage of Issue 1 on Nov. 3.

Should the tax not be renewed, the state sales tax will go down by 1/2 cent, to six cents. However, not only will ArDOT lose funding, but as previously reported, cities and counties throughout the state will lose revenue. Both the city of Paragould and Greene County anticipate a reduction of at least $500,000 a year in lost revenue.

Despite the completion and opening of the bypass, District 10’s work is far from over in Greene County.

“At the Light bypass,” Smithee said Monday, “ we are demolishing the old box culverts.” Smithee said the work will include detours to permit installation of the other half of the box culverts.

“This is not going to happen rapidly,” he said, “but we are close to 60 percent complete on the Light bypass.” Once the Highway 412 bypass around Light is complete, the road currently designated U.S. Highway 412 as it passes through the town will revert to Greene County control and responsibility, and receive an as-yet-undesignated county road number.

In addition, the work continues to widen Highway 49 to four lanes from its junction with state Highway 135 to its intersection with North 12th Avenue. Smithee said between 12th Avenue and Greene 845 Road Highway 49 would transition back to two lanes. Among other things, the work will entail demolition and removal of the overpass over the disused Union Pacific railroad track in favor of a ground-level four-lane road.

Also, Smithee noted work to resurface Highway 412 from state Highway 141 back eastward into Paragould at its intersection with Reynolds Road.

“It’ll be in two parts,” Smithee said. “From Miss Addie’s [i.e. from Highway 141] to Cache [Road] we are putting down ‘Ultra-thin Bonded Wearing Course – it’s an ultra-thin overlay.”

From Cache Road to Reynolds Road, Smithee said, the overlay will consist of milling the current surface, followed by a two-inch overlay of asphalt.

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