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DRIVETIME MAHATMA: No holdup for trains worth wait

by Frank Fellone | December 28, 2019 at 8:59 a.m.

Dear Mahatma: Regarding construction of the railroad crossing on Geyer Springs south of 65th Street, any prediction for completion of this worthy project? It seems like a long time since the detour showed up. The Empire State Building only took 13 months. -- Curious

Dear Curious: We asked around and learned it's a project of the city of Little Rock and Metroplan, the region's transportation planning agency.

The city's civil engineering manager, Mike Hood, gave us a detailed answer, which was in keeping with the deeply serious tone of this column. Serious -- ha!

Hood says this project just north of 65th Street is one of several regional railroad overpasses constructed throughout central Arkansas as part of a Metroplan initiative. Overpasses enhance motorist safety by eliminating at-grade crossings. They also improve emergency response times by eliminating delays waiting for a train. Baseline Road was the first of two overpasses planned for Little Rock.

(Another new overpass is the one on East McCain in North Little Rock, making it much easier to access the pies at BJ's Market Cafe.)

The Geyer Springs project will cost about $10 million, including design and right-of-way acquisition.

Eighty percent comes from a Federal Highway Administration grant administered by the Arkansas Department of Transportation. The rest comes from the city's capital improvements bond issue for streets and drainage.

The overpass will have four travel lanes, two in each direction, with sidewalks on both sides.

The current contract time extends to August, but the bridge may open for traffic in May or June. Little Rock, Hood says, will begin construction on a related project in 2020 to complete the widening of Geyer Springs Road from the new bridge north to 56th Street.

Regarding the Empire State Building, Hood notes that was accomplished over 13 months with 3,400 workers.

"We'll finish the bridge in a similar amount of time with less than 50 workers!"

This made us curious about the Empire State Building. Turns out it cost about $41 million to build in 1930-31. Given that the Little Rock overpass project, vastly smaller, costs about $10 million, this caused us to ponder the power of inflation. But only briefly, so as not to tax the brain.

Dear Mahatma: We have a question about the newly painted lines around town. They seem to be already worn out so much that you can barely see them in places. Example: The on-ramp from Rodney Parham to Interstate 430 south and Interstate 630 downtown. Were they using a water-based paint? -- Ann

Dear Ann: The Arkansas Department of Transportation says its statewide maintenance crews primarily apply water-based paint on top of existing stripes. A properly applied paint looks dull during the daytime because of the density of glass beads dropped on top of the wet paint.

The real test is at night when light is reflected via the glass beads. The actual paint has limited reflectivity.

Vanity plate: CHYNADL.

Metro on 12/28/2019


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