WALDENBURG, AR (KAIT) - It's been 9 months since the new section of U.S. 67 opened between Newport and Highway 226 outside of Cash.
This has allowed traffic to avoid Waldenburg and Highway 49 through Jonesboro.
Economically speaking has this been a boon or bust?
When the new section of highway 67 opened up there were fears that;
A- It would kill all the business in Waldenburg.
And B- There would be a ton of accidents on 226 from the increased traffic.
So far neither A or B has come true.
Last year the ribbon fell and the traffic began to flow North and South on the new section of Highway 67.
The opening resulted in a couple of things. No longer travelers or trucks would have to go through Waldenburg on 14 and 49.
More traffic would flow to Jonesboro and beyond through Cash.
So if all the majority of traffic is going through Cash what about Waldenburg?
Diona McKellar is an employee at Jordan's in Waldenburg. "We're getting a lot of stragglers. "Uh Oh I'm lost. How do I get back to the interstate"?"
There are few businesses in Waldenburg that at first glance would seem to depend on highway business, but looks, McKellar says are deceiving.
"Our main business is all of our local farmers. They keep us going. If it wasn't for them there wouldn't be a Jordan's here."
Depending on who you talk to and the opinions they give you. Yes traffic has decreased along 14 and 49 but business they say here in Waldenburg is still pretty good.
McKellar, "Lotta less vehicles but it's still the same customer count."
As you exit 67 onto 226 it's decision time. Do you head West toward 367 past the B B Q stand or East toward Jonesboro on 226.
James Best who owns Skinny J's in Cash hopes you come his direction. He opened his restaurant early last October.
Best, "The interstate opened up 10 days after and ever since business has been great. People stopping in needing gas and then they get food so it's been good to me."
Best says he basically get's 2 kinds of customers.
"Through the week it's a lot of locals and then I get a lot of the road workers and people working on the highway down here. The weekends I do a totally different menu so it's more people from Jonesboro and people coming through that stop in."
Cash has a small store that sits beside Skinny J's. No gas station in town but the businesses that attract business from all the traffic.
Best, "It's so busy it's almost dangerous. I think they said it went from almost 1400 cars a day to almost 8800 cars a day."
Cars that bring customers.
Best, "People will call in down here going to Little Rock . They'll call in steaks and take them all the way to Little Rock and eat them."
According to 2009 traffic counts, Waldenburg used to see around 3500 cars a day and Cash about 3600. The 2010 numbers will be released around mid January and it will be interesting to see how if any, the numbers have changed.