Wednesday, April 11, 2007

TOP STORY >>Connector in Cabot to open on Monday

Leader staff writer

The $1 million road connecting Hwy. 5 to Wal-Mart in Cabot will open at noon Monday with a ribbon cutting at the $150,000 bridge paid for by the city.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams said the county will be lined up on one side of the and city representatives will be on the other. And once the ribbon is cut, traffic will start flowing on the new road that will be called South Rockwood.

Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman started building the road using county workers in 2005. His appeal in 2006 for financial help from Cabot was rebuffed by then Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh who implied that Troutman would benefit personally from the new road. Troutman, who owns land on Hwy. 5, says he won’t benefit, but the city will because shoppers who have avoided downtown traffic in Cabot by going to Wal-Mart in Jacksonville will now be more inclined to shop at home in Cabot.

“It’s wonderful to have a relationship with the county because as individuals we can do a little but together we can do so much more,” Williams said about the 2.5 mile road that is the biggest county road project ever completed and the first new road built in many years to help get residents across town.

In addition to paying for the bridge, the city also gave the county $100,000 to help pay for paving the new road.
Williams said the county has agreed to help the city widen the intersection at Hwy. 89 and Rockwood where traffic backs up during morning and evening rush hours.

Actually, that project is a collaboration with the city providing the money, the county bringing in equipment and labor and the state contributing the design, Williams said. The widening of Hwy. 5 should be completed by mid summer but the intersection of Hwy. 5 and Hwy. 89 is completed now and the traffic lights are turned on.

Poor timing of lights has been a problem in Cabot that the city is working with the state to correct. But Williams said the new light seems to be working well. “Traffic is moving through smoothly,” he said.

Widening of Hwy. 5, which included installation of a traffic light, was already scheduled in March 2004 when three teenaged girls were killed there as they turned into the path of an 18-wheeler. The three girls, Alicia Rix, 16, of North Little Rock, Jae Lynn Russell, 16, of 8226 Centennial Road and Taylor Hall, 15, of 128 Almond Cove, Sherwood.

Rix and Hall were students at Sylvan Hills High School. Russell was transferring to Sylvan Hills from North Pulaski High School. According to the state police report, Russell, the driver, and Rix died on the scene.

Taylor was airlifted to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Medical Center where she died from her injuries.
The driver of the truck, Clayton Brown, 47, of 1691 Windchime, suffered minor injuries. Based on state police and witness reports, the girls were at a stop sign eastbound on Hwy. 89 when a pickup ahead of them pulled out onto Hwy. 5.

The girls followed and ended up in the path of Brown’s southbound truck. At the time of the accident the intersection was equipped with flashing caution lights and a stop sign, but no traffic signals.