Locking In on the Companies Behind the Orange Barrels

by Kyle Massey  on Monday, Jul. 2, 2018 12:00 am   2 min read

Employees of Manhattan Road & Bridge work on the Cabot North Interchange. (Karen E. Segrave)

The name Manhattan Road & Bridge might conjure an image straight out of New York City, but that would be off by about 1,300 miles.

The lead contractor for the $85 million Interstate 630 widening project is part of the Manhattan Construction Group of Tulsa, famed for building AT&T Stadium for Jerry Jones’ Dallas Cowboys and the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington.

It’s now building a $1.1 billion retractable-roof ballpark for the Texas Rangers, Globe Life Field, in Arlington, Texas.

In March 1999, Manhattan Construction’s parent company, Rooney Holdings, bought M.J. Lee Construction of Tulsa, explained Mark Windle, vice president of Arkansas operations for Manhattan Road & Bridge. In 2008, M.J. Lee acquired Southern Pavers, which was based in Pine Bluff and owned by Randy McNulty, and retained its employees and projects.

M.J. Lee added another acquisition a year later, Muskogee Bridge Co., and combined the three companies as Manhattan Road & Bridge “to reflect our being in the Manhattan Construction family,” Windle said.

The company moved its Arkansas headquarters to Little Rock, where it has offices and shop space on 65th Street, near the Arkansas Department of Transportation. It also has a base in Springdale.

Windle estimated that some 40 percent of the I-630 job will be handled by subcontractors, and the contract calls for 10 percent of the work to go to Disadvantaged Business Enterprise contractors. “We’re using our hometown A-team on this job,” he said.

Cranford Construction of North Little Rock, a division of McGeorge Contracting Co., will furnish asphalt, and Total Erosion Control of McRae (White County) will provide most of the project’s temporary erosion control devices and permanent vegetation.

The biggest subcontractor is Koss Construction Co. of Topeka, Kansas, a large concrete paving company. “They’re not from Arkansas, but they’re very reputable, with a lot of experience in these tight-schedule jobs,” Windle said.

All Service Electric Inc. of Hot Springs “will be doing traffic signals, overhead lights and lighting under the bridges kind of like what you see at the Big Rock Interchange,” Windle said.

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Windle described Manhattan Construction Group, his parent company, as a large commercial vertical construction company privately held for nearly a century by descendants of Laurence H. Rooney, who arrived in Tulsa when Oklahoma was still a territory. Later, he made Manhattan the first company to incorporate after statehood. Larry Rooney, representing the fifth generation of the family, was named the construction group’s president last year.

“The Rooneys are very stable, very committed to this industry, and we’ve had a presence in Arkansas for a very long time,” Windle said.



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