Friday, October 06, 2017

EDITORIAL >> Open houses for Hwy. 89

The Arkansas Department of Transportation and Metroplan will hold public-involvement meetings next week in Jacksonville and Mayflower on a proposal to transform Hwy. 89 into a thoroughfare between Cabot and Mayflower, near bustling Conway.

The plan has been discussed for several years now. It was conceived as an alternative for the incomplete North Belt Loop, which would have quickened commutes to west Little Rock and I-40.

The North Belt was abandoned years ago as expenses increased and coordination with cities fell through.

The Hwy. 89 corridor proposal calls for widening it to four lanes from Cabot to Mayflower.

It would be a boon for Cabot’s West Main Street and make north Pulaski County more attractive to development.

There’s been some talk of building an exit at Coffelt Road on Hwy. 67/167, which would connect to Hwy. 89. That caught the attention of Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher as that area could one day be annexed into his city.

Little Rock Air Force officials don’t support the Hwy. 89 plan. Too much development to its north could interfere with its operations.

Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde does not support the plan either. Fletcher, too, seems to have lost interest.

Firmly behind the plan is Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert. He knows it’ll boost his growing city.

To learn more about the Hwy. 89 proposal, the public can attend open-house meetings from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at McArthur Church, 3501 John Harden Drive in Jacksonville.

The other will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Mayflower City Hall, 2 Ashmore St.

There will be displays of the route concept, and attendees can ask questions and offer their comments.

“The study seeks to determine the need for and feasibility of a continuous Hwy. 89 corridor. The focus of the study is to make Hwy. 89 a key component of the regional arterial network, providing a continuous east-west corridor from I-40 to Hwy. 67 north of Camp Robinson,” according to the announcement.

Other major highway projects may beat out the Hwy. 89 plan. After all, the widening of Hwy. 67/167 from Jacksonville to Hwy. 5 in Cabot still has several more years to go.

Then there’s the revamping of the Hwy. 67 and I-40 junction in North Little Rock and the I-30 bridge in Little Rock.

Whatever happens, we can guarantee road work and delays ahead. Drive safe.