Ribbon cutting officially opens Highway 18 Manila Bypass
A ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion and opening of the Manila Bypass, State Highway 18, was held Thursday morning near the intersection of Mississippi County Road 330 and Highway 18.
City, county and state officials, along with highway workers and representatives of the Arkansas Department of Transportation, attended the milestone event and were welcomed by Scott E. Bennett, P.E., director of ARDOT.
Members of the Arkansas National Guard presented the Colors followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
“It is a great day to be in Mississippi County,” Bennett said.
Bennett thanked every one who had a part in the day who worked together to get the work done. He also thanked Meadows Construction.
“This is one step closer to the five lanes connecting Blytheville and Jonesboro,” Bennett said.
He went on to talk about the large highway system in Arkansas. Bennett said it was a large undertaking relocating water/sewer lines but working together with the staff and city officials they came up with solutions.
“This project has been a partnership with the local government and I want to thank the city and the county,” he said.
Alec Farmer, Arkansas State Highway commissioner, spoke briefly.
“It is a pleasure to be here on this exciting day,” Farmer said.
With the construction of the final two miles at Big Lake there will be continuing five lanes between Blytheville and Jonesboro.
Farmer talked how much safer the drive to work and college will be.
Brad Smithee, District 10 engineer with the ARDOT, talked about the work it has taken to get to the celebration. He called the opening of the bypass a milestone.
Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner thanked everyone and said it has been a partnership with the highway department and the city and county workers.
“We can leave Mississippi County and Manila and drive to California all the way on a five lane highway,” Mayor Wagner said. “We can market and transport our products. I appreciate all of the highway workers. These guys have made this possible and on behalf of the citizens of Manila I want to express our appreciation. I saw how hard the people worked on this project. When the conditions allowed, they were out working. I want to say God bless you all.”
The ribbon was cut by Bennett with highway workers, city officials including Mayor Wagner, City Attorney Wes Wagner, Councilman Wendell Poteet, County Judge Terrie Brassfield and State Representative Johnny Rye taking part.