Deadly Accident Has Bono Residents Worried About New Intersection

December 8, 2004 – Posted at 5:49 p.m. CST

BONO – A two-vehicle accident Wednesday morning on the newly opened Bono Bypass leaves one person dead.xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /

The accident occurred around 7:15 on Highway 63 right outside of Bono on a section of the new bypass near the Highway 230 intersection.

Police say the accident occurred when a vehicle crossed the centerline striking the rear wheels of a tractor-trailer.  The force of the impact turned the car around crushing the vehicle.  The driver of the car 36-year-old Claude Rice of Walnut Ridge was pronounced dead at the scene.  The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured.

Driver Correne Lawson said, "I think there should be a light at the overpass. There's too much traffic there to get across safely."

And Bono's Mayor L.M. Duncan agrees.

"Most people around Bono think somebody's going to get killed around here because there is no light at the Highway 230 and Highway 63 intersection," said Duncan.

When plans for the Bono Bypass were developed, the Arkansas Highway Department issued a study to see where and if traffic signals were needed.

"Our study indicates a traffic signal is warranted on the old highway on the Jonesboro side," said Joe Barnett of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.

But the Highway 230 crossing did not meet those same requirements.

"The traffic counts at Highways 230 and Highway 63 has not even been done because the road was closed at the intersection," said Craighead County Judge Dale Haas, "I think they need to go back and maybe reconsider where this traffic signal is located."

"Traffic on highway 230 is very low. Less than a thousand cars a day, and that is quite a way from what we would need to warrant a traffic signal," said Barnett.

After the project is complete, if there is a significant difference in traffic flow, the Highway Department can re-evaluate the situation.

In 2002, public meetings in Bono and around Craighead County were held to discuss this issue. Judge Haas says everyone attending these meetings was in favor of relocating the stoplight from the bottom of Bono Hill to the intersection of Highway 63 and Highway 230, and members of the Arkansas Highway Transportation Department were present at each of the meetings.