Monette Council discusses roadway issues

Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Monette Mayor Chub Qualls (seated) and Alderman Kristian Nuckles (right) discuss Highway 18 roadways with Arkansas Highway Department engineers Aaron Vowell and Brad Smithee. (Photo provided/Nan Snider)

Monette city officials discussed roadway issues in a lengthy question and answer session with Arkansas Highway Department representatives during their monthly council meeting Monday, June 25.

Highway Department District Engineer Brad Smithee and Resident Engineer Aaron Vowell responded to nine major road matters, which included stop lines, roadway aprons, bumps, bridge resurfacing, old road bed ownership, city right-of-ways, and signs along the new Highway 18 loop.

Smithee explained that stop lines on pavement were not used unless the roadway was entering a signal intersection. Bumps on road surfaces could be grinded off, left as they were or milled up, cut and replaced. Often efforts to correct the issue made the imperfection worse than it was in the beginning.

The council wanted the deck on the small bridge on the east portion of old Highway 18 to be fixed, sealed or resurfaced. The representatives agreed to take care of it.

Vowell explained that the five lane Highway 18 bypass did not contain four lanes and a turn lane, but technically the fifth lane was a painted median to divide traffic. However, the fifth lane has striping like a turn lane.

“We have had 29 wrecks on the bypass since last November,” Alderman Kristian Nuckles said. The council asked for aprons off the west entrance to compensate for short alignment turns. The Highway Department agreed to add wings to improve the turn radius. The council also asked for additional aprons or extensions along North Edmonds Street, for access to businesses along that route.

“There are street lights on the west entrance to the old highway, but not at the east entrance,” Councilman Bob Blankenship said.

Easements and right-of-ways for utilities and maintenance were discussed.

“The Highway Department’s use of the former road bed right-of-ways on the west and east sides of town were court ordered, and did not involve a purchase. The right of use for highway purposes was conveyed by a county judge. East of town is an obliviated area, and we no longer claim its use. The county may say it is the city's now," Smithee said.

“We are concerned about drainage and maintenance to the east side,” Nuckles said. “There is a triangle there that won’t drain, and it is now forming a pond.”

Clarification of right-of-ways for utilities and who maintains the areas were also discussed.

Smithee said the Highway Department mows three times a year in 15-foot sweep cycles. These include May, July and near Thanksgiving cycles.

Mayor Chub Qualls inquired about placement of veterans memorial and museum sign placement along the Highway 18 loop. Smithee explained that veteran memorial signs are not supplied by the state, but Museum signs might be if it meets necessary requirements.

Alderman Blankenship shared possible ideas for placement of veterans park and museum signs on future welcome signs, similar to the one seen at the Bald Knob entrance. Grants for funding are being sought through Municipal League references.

The council expressed their appreciation for the engineers helping them resolve problems with the transition of old Highway 18 roadway and the new five-lane loop. Improvements will be on-going.

Other business included veterans park funds, welcome signs, new police station, park improvements, cemetery work progress and spraying for mosquitoes.

A check for $32,523.79 from the Veterans Park Fund was issued to the American Legion, per requirements of the benefactor’s gift. The American Legion is considering plans to return the funds to the city for placement in a special account earmarked for maintenance and upkeep of the Veterans Memorial. The account will require the council’s approval for expenditures. American Post Commander and Councilman Brandon Decker will present the check with guidelines for use at the July council meeting.

The city accepted the bid of $104,500, minus possible allowances, from Michael Stracener for construction of the new Monette Police Station, pending financing approval.

Work at the city cemetery is ongoing, with work being done by two part-time employees. Improvements to the city park continue monthly, with plans to order new benches and tables.

The council voted to purchase a new Clarke Mosquito Sprayer for $11,826.50, with Park and Street Department funds. A fee of $1.50 will be charged to city residents to pay for the equipment, until it is paid for. Operators will be paid $10 an hour to spray.

The council went into a short executive session to discuss hiring but did not take any action. Bob Blankenship announced there would be future adjustments to personnel at a later date.

The council approved the purchase of a new city hall office computer and software, not to exceed $1,200 in cost.

The next regularly schedule council meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday, July 23,

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