NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) -A Lot of changes out there today as the highway department scrambled to open off ramps and entrances and get the signs uncovered and just let people know in general the road was open.
Early in the morning before the ribbon cutting there were changes afoot.
Even with the burlap still on the signs highway vehicles were standing by to open lanes for traffic.
Approaching the Highway 18 overpass on 67 a flashing road sign about the ceremony in the left lane foretold the day was at hand.
Lyndel Waits the District 5 Engineer for the highway department says this is the last section of 67 for his district.
"We're excited to get it done and look forward to folks enjoying this fine highway facility we have for them."
Highway commissioner Cliff Hookman said the gap between Walnut Ridge and Little Rock is closing.
Hookman, "We're opening today 17 miles and we all know that there's 16 miles right on up the road that we're working on and hopefully it won't be too long before we can do this again."
Governor Mike Beebe stood on the podium surrounded by highway department and local officials. Beebe gave full praise to the highway department and said this is a big step economically.
Beebe, "It brings us closer and closer to Jonesboro which is a major metropolitan economic engine for Northeast Arkansas. Congratulations to everybody involved in this. Congratulations Newport and Jackson county. "
Governor Beebe led the convoy to 226 followed closely by the first semi to roll North. It is estimated that around 6000 vehicles a day will use the highway.
Following the ribbon cutting, highway workers were removing the covers from new signs and changing out old 67 signs for the new highway 367 signs.
Senator Paul Bookout told me that his dad and other legislators have been working on this highway for a long time. Construction began on 67 in the sixties.
"The People of Northeast Arkansas have been quite patient. This is a wonderful thing and opens a lot of opportunities for Northeast Arkansas so we're real excited."
Back in the 60's the first 10 miles of 67 was built for 8 Million dollars.
This 17 miles was a bit costlier.
Waits, "Well this portion here was about 93 Million dollars from Highway 18 up to 226."
It averages out to about 5 million dollars a mile.