Residents and travelers through Polk County have experienced issues with the conditions of US Highway 71, and those issues are being addressed.
Representative John Maddox said the pavement will soon get a face lift, with the project bid having been awarded to a contractor.
“There has been a delay,” Maddox said. “The contractor flagged the highway, but for reasons related to COVID, the project was temporarily suspended and then weather and season concerns made it necessary to wait a little longer for the project to fully begin in earnest.”
In addition to the pavement, passing lanes in Polk and Scott County are also on the Arkansas Department of Transportation’s (ARDOT) radar.
The public is asked to show their interest in the addition of passing lanes by participating in a virtual conference or expressing opinions online.
The virtual meeting pertains to proposed plans to construct northbound and southbound passing lanes on Highway 71 between Mena and “Y” City in Polk and Scott Counties.
The public is invited to listen, view meeting materials, and provide written comments. The website will be available for comments until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, January 29.
The web address to virtual meeting is: https://vpiph01-040787-mena-y-city-passing-lanes-hwy-71-ardot.hub.arcgis.com/
A link to the virtual meeting will be available at mypulsenews.com and on the Pulse Facebook.
The link will take you to the online neighborhood public meeting website. This website will provide project materials and handouts that would have been shown at the in-person meetings. A separate link (on that page) will provide a Spanish version of the presentation. There will also be an option to send online comment forms to ARDOT staff, or you can print the form and mail it to, Environmental Division, 10324 Interstate 30, Little Rock, AR 72209.
If you do not have internet access, please contact Karla Sims at 501-569-2000 to ask questions about the proposed project and how to access project information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Please remember if you agree with me and you think we need more passing lanes on Hwy 71 in Polk and Scott counties please do the survey – it does not take long,” Maddox said.
One of Maddox’s main reasons for running for office was the condition of HWY 71.
“It appeared to me 71 through Polk County is one of the worst highways in state,” he said. “Through Mena is the worst part.”
Maddox said he gave the ARDOT engineer a tour through Mena after taking office to show the condition of the highway.
“Ever since that time, every week I follow up with him and the highway commissioners and the executive of ARDOT about Hwy 71,” Maddox said.
“I feel there is not enough passing and safe passing areas in Polk and Scott county as you’re are headed north on 71,” he continued. “It’s not efficient and not safe. We have all seen people who want to pass, get impatient and take a risk they shouldn’t. Adding separate passing lanes is a critical need.
“I think it sends the wrong message to people who are here visiting or thinking about relocating.”
Maddox said because the highway is a state responsibility, residents should communicate their opinions to ARDOT at this time.
“By filling out the questionnaire and offering comments, it allows the state to understand the needs of the area,” Maddox said. “They are asking the public if they feel it is necessary. I think it’s is.”