McGeorge Contracting Co., Inc. was awarded the bypass extension connecting U.S. 70 and Arkansas 5 on the east side of Garland County. The 5.8-mile bypass extension, which will include five bridges, will be a two-lane route that also will have controlled access with entrance and exit ramps.
McGeorge Contracting plans to complete the $75 million project in 890 days, or almost 2.5 years.
The project, when completed, will make travel easier and safer between Hot Springs and Hot Springs Village, Jessieville and other points east and north of the Garland County's county seat. That traffic currently must move along a congested stretch of Arkansas 7 that turns into Park Avenue.
"Even though it's going to be two lanes, it will be at higher speed than if you go on Park Avenue and Highway 7," Hot Springs Mayor Pat McCabe said.
The increased population in that part of the county has complicated travel not only for residents but for law enforcement personnel and emergency responders, said McCabe.
According to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the county's estimated population now is 99,154. That is up from 73,397 in 1990. About 14,000 vehicles daily travel on the two-lane Arkansas 7 going into Hot Springs, the same amount of traffic that travels on U.S. 70 between Hot Springs and Interstate 30, according to the latest state Transportation Department data.
The Arkansas Department of Transportation turned to the bypass concept after a study that the Arkansas Highway Commission approved eight years ago found that improving Arkansas 7, particularly within the Hot Springs city limits, would be difficult because of the presence of historic structures and Hot Springs' designation as a national park.
Content from Arkansas Democrat Gazette