Marion meets with Highway Department about Military Road redo

Marion meets with Highway Department about Military Road redo

Officials hoping for cooperative partnership on project

Arkansas Department of Transportation is open to the idea of partnering with Marion on the project to widen Military Road, but aren’t making any promises or commitments as to what the final design will entail.

Officials from ARDOT met with Marion Mayor Frank Fogleman this week to discuss the impending road improvement project and to get the city’s input on what they would like to see happen.

The state is proposing to widen the road to five lanes from the intersection of I55 to the railroad tracks where Military Road intersects with Highway 77.

Marion is hoping to convince the state to scale the project down to only three lanes and to allow the city to pay for additional landscaping improvements with islands and decorative lighting to minimize the impact on one of the city’s main roadways.

“It was a very cordial meeting,” Fogleman said.

“I think there was a desire on their part to cooperate to the extent that they can.

But it is way too early and they don’t have anything definitive and can’t commit to anything right now.”

Fogleman said one of the major concerns be brought up at the meeting is the uncertainty of whether the building housing the water department will need to be torn down or if they will just lose the parking in front.

“The water department is the biggest issue and I specifically pointed it out,” Fogleman said. “My request was as soon as they know something to please communicate with us and let us know.”

Fogleman also told ARDOT that the city would like to install landscaped islands in front of the school to lessen the impact on the safety around the school for children crossing a five lane road and to save as much of the existing trees as possible.

“If it is five lanes you have issues with kids crossing and I think five lanes would be detrimental to whatever character that part of town has,” Fogleman said.

The state was noncommittal on that proposal, and Fogleman said they pointed out that because the project is being funded with federal money that they have certain regulations and guidelines they need to follow.

“There are some strings that come attached with federal money,” Fogleman said. “So they have a list of do’s and don’ts that they must follow.”

However, Fogleman said the state did indicate that they could do some rough end plumbing and electrical work so that the city could install their own lighting and irrigation.

“They won’t plant our trees and put our light poles up,” Fogleman said. “But they said they would work with us and put in an underground conduit or wire and rough it in for whatever we choose to do. They will expect us to pay for it.”

ARDOT requested the city put their requests in a letter and send them in for consideration.

Fogleman said he felt it was a good exchange of ideas — even if they didn’t walk away with any commitments or time frame on when the design will be finished or construction timeline.

“It was a pretty good back and forth,” Fogleman said.

“We didn’t get many answers. But I feel like they will give us the courtesy and time on this and hopefully have our comments in the back of their mind. Just the idea that they are willing to coordinate with us and do the rough end electrical and plumbing is encouraging. I’m not as stressed over when they start as much as I am about when we will see the design so we will know its impact on the buildings and the trees.”

By Mark Randall