Fatal accident raises safety concerns along Hwy. 49 in Greene Co - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Fatal accident raises safety concerns along Hwy. 49 in Greene County

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(Source: MGN Online) (Source: MGN Online)

MARMADUKE, AR (KAIT) – The road connecting Paragould to Marmaduke has earned a bad reputation over the years.

A man died during an accident Monday in Greene County along a narrow stretch of Highway 49 that has become notorious for serious crashes.

The fatality has not only provided a grim reminder about the roadway's dangers, but has also struck up the chorus again calling for changes.

People have long complained of the ever increasing amount of traffic and congestion in the area, so they say it's time to widen the roadway.

Local law enforcement supports that idea because officers usually respond to an accident on Highway 49 at least two to three times each month.

"Once you get around what we call Stanley Sawmill, [Highway 49] starts widening a little bit, but between Stanley Sawmill and Marmaduke, it's very narrow," Marmaduke Police Chief Steve Franks said. "When we have an accident, they're usually pretty bad."

Chief Franks and his officers have even tried to avoid pulling people over on Highway 49 outside city limits for that reason.

The road has small shoulders there and steep drop-offs, which have been hazardous for even one of his officers.

"We had another semi-truck rollover, and he [the officer] was out on that," Franks said. "A car was coming by and did not see him and struck him. He rolled over the top of the car. He wasn't hurt luckily, but [Highway] 49 is very dangerous."

Franks has also noticed traffic pick up heavily during his 18 years on the force.

"There are certain times during the day that it's very busy," he said. "You wouldn't think a small town like Marmaduke would need a stop light, but I'm beginning to wonder."

What he and other residents like Kim Audley would now like to see happen is the roadway widened.

"There's been like three accidents that I know of, and there was a fatal one," Audley said. "It's heartbreaking."

The crash Monday claimed the life of Audley's friend, so she hopes something changes so that fewer people have to experience that loss.

"It would be nice for something to be done," she said. "Either widen up those roads or something so that there's more room for everybody to ride down it and not have any more accidents."

There are no changes scheduled to come to this section of highway as of yet.

Chief Franks asks drivers in the meantime to stay alert and, above all else, mind the speed limits.

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