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Wednesday, September 17, 2014, 7:06 p.m.
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Completion of I-540 section celebrated

Fort Smith, Van Buren ceremony marks project’s end

By Dave Hughes

This article was published August 6, 2014 at 4:37 a.m.

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Officials unveil a sign Tuesday proclaiming the completion of the Interstate 540 reconstruction in Fort Smith and Van Buren. The $78 million contract was the largest in Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department history. From left are Fort Smith City Administrator Ray Gosack, Arkansas Highway Commissioner Dick Trammel, Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders and 9th District state Sen. Bruce Holland, R-Greenwood.

VAN BUREN -- Officials gathered Tuesday morning to proclaim the completion of the $78.8 million reconstruction of Interstate 540 in Fort Smith and Van Buren.

The officials, who unveiled a sign announcing that the largest contract ever awarded by the Arkansas and Transportation Department was completed, hailed the project as a boon to economic development for the area.

"It shows that the state of Arkansas is going to invest for the future," Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman said during the brief ceremony at the northern edge of what for 20 months was a construction zone that stretched from Interstate 40 at Van Buren to Rogers Avenue in Fort Smith.

Highway Commissioner Dick Trammel said good infrastructure such as the reconstructed I-540 is an asset to commercial and industrial development efforts.

In addition to Trammel and Freeman, the ceremony was attended by 9th District state Sen. Bruce Holland, R-Greenwood, Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders, Fort Smith City Administrator Ray Gosack and Highway Department district engineer Jason Hughey.

The officials complimented contractor Kiewit Infrastructure South for the speed and efficiency with which it managed the project. Hughey said the company completed the project in the 174 work days allotted to it.

He said the next closest bidder for the project had estimated to take a year longer to complete the work.

"I heard so many compliments about the work of Kiewit and what they were doing," Freeman said. "If it had been under somebody else, we'd probably be standing here today looking at orange barrels."

Sanders said he was pleased with the way the work proceeded with minimal disruption of traffic flow by carrying on the work at night and shifting traffic flow from lane to lane as the work proceeded.

The 7.5-mile reconstruction project awarded in November 2012 consisted of replacing the 45-year-old concrete roadway with quieter-riding asphalt, replacing nine bridges and raising four of them, according to a fact sheet handed out by the Highway Department.

"Now we can drive smooth, drive easy," Trammel said.

Metro on 08/06/2014

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