Topping out affects more than new NEA Baptist hospital

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Construction on the new NEA Baptist Hospital and Clinic has reached a milestone.

Wednesday, hundreds watched as the buildings were "topped out" with ceremonial beams topped with pine trees and U.S. and Arkansas flags.

The new hospital and clinic will bring a lot to Jonesboro and the surrounding area.

But not everybody welcomes it with open arms.

Although this was an important day for the hospital, basically it means construction is half way done, a residents who lives in the surrounding area along highway 49 says, she is going to move.

Traffic is heavy by Lundie Bridgers' home on 49. We stood on her porch and watched cars and trucks race by going North and South.

"It's crazy and dangerous and going to get worse." she said.

49 originally was 2-lane, now it's 4 and the speed limit has just been raised to 60.

"It's more industrial all the time." Bridger said. "We've got a lot past me and they used to wasn't nothing down there." The new fair grounds are just North of her house about a mile.

Mrs. Bridger has been in her home since 1958. Now she and her neighbors have huge 4-sale signs in their yards. Soon, she will be moving.

Mike Simzisko the Senior Superintendent for construction at the hospital has built 13 hospitals. He says these facilities attract growth and a lot of businesses.

"Within a few short months after the hospital opens you'll begin seeing the area around the hospital grow. You are already starting to see growth around the hospital and it will just keep going." he said referring to the stores and the new Dairy Queen and other construction up at hilltop.

Bridger looked around her yard, cut by the addition of 2 lanes of 49. "It's not really like the country any more."

Dr. Ray Hall the founder of NEA Clinic says this area will boom.

"You can see evidence of that already. Everything looks like it's for sale and I think it's a realtors dream out here. "

Mrs. Bridger hasn't sold her house yet, she says basically the developers really want the acreage behind her house. "They don't want this place." she said. "They said they would just bulldoze it down. It needs a lot of fixin up but I ain't done it on account of that."

Mrs. Bridger says she is still fond of the area just not all the traffic in her front yard. She says she's not moving too far away. In fact from her front porch you could see the roof of her new home which is still under construction.

"Across the road over there about a quarter of a mile." she said pointing to the East.

But will she still have to come out and brave the traffic on 49?

She grinned and chuckled. "I'll go out the other way."

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