Members of the Economic Development Corporation of Clark County learned Tuesday that progress on the new Sun Bio mill is moving along.

Members of the Economic Development Corporation of Clark County learned Tuesday that progress on the new Sun Bio mill is moving along.
According to Stephen Bell, president/CEO of the Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance and Area Chamber of Commerce, the Sun Bio delegation recently completed their meetings in Arkadelphia.
The delegation met with three different vendors regarding the equipment for the linerboard and the boilers. The vendors submitted proposals to provide the necessary equipment for Sun Bio.
“They went in depth on what each company could provide when it came to the equipment. There is a lot of work that has to be done and they are really dealing with some first-class companies,” Bell said.
Bell noted that Mike Preston of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission is expected to go to China in May to meet with Sun Paper’s Chairman Li Hongxin to follow up on all of the meetings that have taken place.
“The State of Arkansas is very anxious to get the project moving and so is Mr. (Guangdong) Ying and their group. I think that is obvious from when they were here,” Bell said.
In addition, Bell said meetings were held to address the air permit and with representatives from Union Pacific. According to Bell, rail traffic is expected to increase from 35 rail cars a day to approximately 55.
“We are increasing the number of rail traffic, as well as increasing the amount of trucks that will be going to the mill,” said Bell.
Sun Bio delegates are expected to take the information from the various meetings back to China to review. After reviewing the information, the delegates will make a recommendation to Chairman Li.
“Hopefully there will be some announcements of these companies being hired,” Bell said.
 
RAIL SPUR
Bell then shifted his attention to the rail spur that will connect the Union Pacific mainline with the Sun Bio plant and the public transload facility.
According to Bell, there are two U.S. Economic Development Administration grants totaling $1-million each. Bell said that one grant has to be used by August.
Crafton-Tull has advertised for bids to do the initial work for the project, which consists of dirt work near the mainline.
“We’re still working to purchase the Hitcho property. We hope to close on that in a month,” said Bell.
Once the property has been secured, Bell said the grant can be amended to include that portion of the project.
Bell reported that the Clark County Industrial Council had purchased a portion of the Danfoss property near Highway 67.
 
HIGHWAY PROJECTS
According to Bell, the widening of Pine Street is scheduled for January 2021. The project consists of the installation of a turning lane.
In addition, shoulder work and an overlay is scheduled to be completed on Highway 51 in June.
Bell also reported that construction bids are expected to go out this summer to lift the weight restrictions on Highway 53. Bell anticipates the process will take approximately one year to complete.
The lifting of the weight restrictions on Highway 53 should alleviate some of the truck traffic through Arkadelphia.
“They’ve estimated in the past that it would take about 25 percent of the truck traffic that’s currently traveling through here down 67 out of Arkadelphia,” Bell said.
Bell also reported the new Ouachita River Bridge is scheduled to open on June 1.