$2.2M allocated to Alcoa project

During an emergency meeting Tuesday of the Saline County Quorum Court, the justices of the peace approved an ordinance appropriating $2.2 million in county road funds for the Alcoa Road improvement project.

The road-widening project is a joint venture involving the cities of Benton and Bryant and Saline County.
Tuesday's meeting was called by Saline County Judge Lanny Fite to appropriate the county road department's portion required for right-of-way acquisition.

Condemnations had to be paid and filed by June 30, Fite said. He noted that if that deadline had not been met, the county could have risked losing federal funding for the project.

No objections to the ordinance were raised in Tuesday's meeting and the vote was unanimous for passage.
JP James Zahnd was the only JP absent from the session.

When the project was first developed, Saline County was the lead agency because it owned the largest share of the roadway area. However, with various annexations that have taken place since that time, the distribution has changed with the city of Benton now owning nearly 70 percent of the area, the county about 15 percent and the city of Bryant about 15 percent.

"When plans were approved for the project about four years ago, the county had lost most of the control by the, but continued as lead agency in order to keep the project moving," Fite said in a previous meeting.
"Now the city of Benton has taken over as lead agency and this works to everybody's advantage," the judge said.

The rights of way necessary to begin the project are expected to be acquired by this fall. The next step will be to relocate utilities and then begin actual road construction.

The Alcoa Road funding issue was the only item addressed in the court's special meeting. The session adjourned around five minutes after it convened.

County Judge Lanny Fite presided.