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Who’s the Boss? We Are (Editorial)

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Highways exist for one reason: to get people and goods to one place from another. The citizens affected by the interminable Interstate 30 widening project in Saline County know that, and they’re likely the reason, as our Marty Cook recently wrote, that there is now cause for optimism that the often-delayed $187.3 million project will finally be finished.

What happened? Well, Hot Springs business leaders demanded answers from the Arkansas Department of Transportation, meeting with its director, Lorie Tudor, on Feb. 1. Businesses in the Spa City have experienced some of the greatest impacts from the project, with Wayne Smith, director of Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, saying that business there had dropped between 15% and 30% because of the interstate work.

A week later, ARDOT told the project’s contractor, Johnson Bros., that it was considering finding the company in default on its contract. Work on the project has now picked up, according to Rex Vines, ARDOT’s chief engineer of operations, and Gary James, president and CEO of the Benton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Will the widening project be finished by the new completion date of Dec. 20? We live in hope.

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