Pocahontas meets with Highway 67 Coalition about proposal

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - With Highway 67 nearing completion to Walnut Ridge, members of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department are looking at the next step. They aren't the only ones who have their eyes on the future of the highway though. Three possible corridors could mean very different things for communities in Region 8.

A meeting held in Pocahontas Wednesday had city officials there giving their input as to why the highway should run close to Pocahontas.

"I mean, the bottom line is it's the future of Randolph County, the future of every municipality in Randolph County," Randolph County Judge David Jansen explained to Region 8 News.

Jansen said Wednesday's meeting with the AHTD gave them the opportunity to show why the remainder of Highway 67 from Walnut Ridge to Missouri should run as close to Pocahontas as possible.

"If they divert all of our traffic away from Randolph County, and it doesn't come through the original 67, then we're going to lose revenues on our sales tax, it could mean a decrease in jobs," Jansen said.

The map presented by the AHTD showed three possible corridors for the remainder of the Highway. Route A runs through Clay County, close to Corning. Route B, the shortest route shown on the map, runs through smaller communities like O'Kean, Knobel, Peach Orchard and Delaplaine. Route C would run through Randolph County and be the closest to Pocahontas.

According to Paul Simms with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department these meeting give community members a chance to voice their concerns and opinions regarding the highway.

"There's a lot that goes into these studies, input from the public, input from public officials are important factors but it's not the total factor," Simms said.

Most of the input given from city officials Wednesday was regarding economics, cost and a time frame. The project started in the 1960's. Simms said they realize it's taken awhile.

"We're averaging about 2 miles a year. I'm just being honest, our resources are constrained." Simms explained.

Judge Jansen says he knows this project will take time, he's just looking out for the future of the area.

"We'd have the opportunity to see economic growth in the future if we can get it designated," Jansen said.

Simms told Region 8 News the study will take 12 to 18 months to complete

Thursday Clay County residents will have the same opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions at a public meeting with the Highway Department. The meeting will take place at the Corning Community Center from 4pm to 7pm.

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