Garver has been helping departments of transportation upgrade their highway systems for decades, but its program management services through the Connecting Arkansas Program (CAP) might lead to its most comprehensive impact.
Financed by a voter-approved half-cent sales tax in 2012, the Arkansas Department of Transportation’s largest highway improvement program in history is entering its final stages to improve approximately 200 miles of highways and interstates through 36 projects.
As program manager, Garver touches every aspect of the 10-year program, acting as an extension of the ARDOT staff to manage and oversee environmental and design, schedules, budgets, utility relocation, and construction progress. For a program that includes three dozen projects, each with fluid schedules and a need to hit critical milestones at varying points, it requires expertise, coordination, and creativity.
"This was the first time that ARDOT had ever done program management, so we had to go into it with the attitude of a partnership and learn from each other and adapt."
Jerry Holder, PE.
Director of Transportation
“This was the first time that ARDOT had ever done program management, so we had to go into it with the attitude of a partnership and learn from each other and adapt,” said Garver Director of Transportation Jerry Holder, PE. “We didn’t come in with a heavy hand and say ‘you have to do it this way.’ We’ve figured it out together.”
While management is led by Garver’s Transportation Team, it is the Project Controls Team, created earlier this decade to manage programs of such magnitude, that is keeping track of all the moving parts as the program nears its scheduled end when the sales tax sunsets in 2023.
“One of the things our Project Controls Team does well is make sense of competing — and sometimes conflicting — schedules from a big-picture perspective,” Holder said.
As of this summer, Garver’s program management services have guided 28 of the 36 projects into construction or completion.
Collectively, these projects to widen highways, construct new river crossings, and update interchange facilities will transform the way residents and visitors travel from one end of the Natural State to the other.
How is CAP connecting Arkansas?
The landmark project of the Connecting Arkansas Program includes replacing the Arkansas River Bridge connecting Little Rock and North Little Rock, which at 125,000 cars per day is the busiest stretch of the state’s highway system. New ramp structures will improve safety as cars easily merge from I-30 to I-40, and an interchange redesigned as a split diamond will help traffic access the downtown Little Rock grid.
Projected completion: 2025
Bella Vista Bypass
Ongoing construction will soon connect sections of the Garver-designed Highway 549 (Bella Vista Bypass) with the Arkansas-Missouri border, providing further connectivity for those traveling through the state’s fastest growing area. Three CAP projects are helping build the bypass. A 6-mile stretch from U.S. Highway 71 to State Highway 72 was completed in May 2017, the final 2 1/2 miles to the state line is scheduled to complete this year, and construction of a single-point urban interchange in Bentonville will open in 2021.
Projected completion: 2021
Highway 70 Widening
Eighteen miles of U.S. Highway 70 were widened to five lanes, creating a more comfortable and much safer connection between I-30 and Hot Springs, one of the state’s top tourist destinations.
Four CAP projects contributed to the widening of Interstate 49 in Northwest Arkansas. More than 16 miles of interstate was widened to six lanes and included improvements to ramps, bridges, overpasses, and detention ponds. These projects make the local commute easier and improve travel conditions through the corridor.
I-40 Widening and I-430 Interchange
About five miles of Interstate 40 were widened to six lanes and single-lane ramps at the I-40/I-430 interchange were widened to two lanes to complete ARDOT’s five-year process to widen approximately 23 miles between Conway and Little Rock.
Photos by the Arkansas Department of Transportation.