Friday, September 14, 2012

EDITORAL >> Wider highway will benefit area

Plans to resurface and widen Hwy. 67/167 between Jacksonville and Cabot are welcome news coming from the state Highway Department, which has dragged its feet on major road projects in this area, especially the half-century delay in building the North Belt freeway.

Six lanes of new pavement will make a good first impression for motorists going to Jacksonville and Cabot. For starters, the Hwy. 67/167 improvement plan at a cost of $18 million to $20 million is a steal compared with the $600 million that is needed to complete the North Belt.

For years, drivers have suffered on the corroded stretch from Jacksonville to Ward, which hasn’t been resurfaced in decades. Since the southern portion from Redmond Road to I-40 has been widened, the highway’s poor condition has been especially noticeable when driving north.

Cabot is also set to receive several new interchanges and bridges.

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher hopes voters will approve a half-cent gasoline tax for 10 years, which may be tough considering the lagging economy. In all, Jacksonville would contribute $5 million to the Hwy. 67/167 revamp. A new sales tax could also help finance a bond to build a $25 million interchange.

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert is also exploring asking voters to extend the city’s one-cent sales tax to pay for several infrastructure projects as reported today in The Leader. These projects will pay off by supporting the area’s growth, ultimately attracting new businesses and residents.