LOCKESBURG, Ark.—The crews of Redstone Construction Group are on the road again near here, paving portions of U.S. Highway 71 to reduce hydroplaning during wet weather.
In the $3.48 million project, Redstone is paving about 15 miles of U.S. Highway 71 and Highway 371 in Miller, Little River and Sevier counties, said Steve Frisbee, Arkansas Department of Transportation district engineer for Southwest Arkansas.
The open-graded aggregate and asphalt mixture used in this project provides increased friction and an open-surface texture that reduces back spray, surface water and the potential for hydroplaning during wet weather, he said.
The sections of highway paved with the mixture "were determined through a wet pavement safety analysis by ArDOT's Traffic Safety section. As part of the Arkansas Strategic Highway Safety plan, reduction of roadway departure crashes is a primary emphasis area," Frisbee said.
The U.S. Highway 71 portion of the project includes Index Bridge over Red River and continues northward outside of Ashdown.
Frisbee said in recent years, ArDOT has been focusing on pavement preservation such as this, or what he calls "keeping good roads good."
In addition to potentially saving lives by reducing the likelihood of hyroplaning, the project should save money.
"This overlay is a distinctive asphalt pavement and preservation treatment called 'ultra-thin bonded wearing course.' This UTBWC overlay seals the underlying pavement, which can defer the need to rehabilitate or reconstruction the pavement. It extends the service life of the pavement, resulting in overall cost savings," Frisbee said.
"Since UTBWC is a proven safety countermeasure used to reduce roadway departure crashes due to wet pavement, federal-aid safety were used to fund the majority of this work," he said.
Depending on the weather, the crews should complete the project in late October. The paving started in August.
This type of asphalt overlay improves both safety and efficiency of Arkansas' highway system, said Frisbee.