Lawson Road: When Can Valley View Schools Expect a Change?

JUNE 1, 2006 -- POSTED AT 6:30 P.M. CDT  

JONESBORO, AR --To say it's been a long, drawn out process is an understatement. The widening of Lawson Road that runs through the Valley View School District has been the topic of discussion among public officials for the last few years.

"The problem is it seems like its taking a little longer than we anticipated it taking. Hopefully, it will be forthcoming here shortly," says Radius Baker, the superintendent for Valley View School District.

Valley View Superintendent Radius Baker says that Valley View is the only school in the state that has a major highway run through their school campus. He says because all the added traffic, they are in desperate need of a bypass around the school.

"We have to watch for tractor-trailer trucks, vehicle, and all sorts of traffic coming along this highway and it's rather dangerous," says Baker.

In 2004, Former Mayor Hubert Brodell and Ken Yarbrough, who lives on Lawson Road, negotiated a contract in which Yarbrough would donate 5.8 acres of land to widen the road. In return, Yarbrough asked the city to build a 5-lane road on a location determined by his specifications.

The original 5 lane road that the city projected would come through the trees on Yarbrough's property and around the back of Christian Valley Christian Church.

"I think they've come back and tried to cut costs, take out the curbs and gutters, and narrow it down to a three lanes," says Ken Yarbrough, who donated the land to widen Lawson.

City Council Member Alec Farmer said they tried to renegotiate the original plan with Yarbrough last week, which included the curbs and gutters and haven't heard back regarding his decision. They hired a traffic consultant to project what Lawson Road would carry by the year 2020, which showed that 2600 cars per day would travel on Lawson. According to city engineering guidelines, that amount of traffic doesn't even justify a 3 lane road.

"Because of the safety issues with the school, and because of the vision of what they road may be in the future as far as moving traffic as an east-west connector, I think everybody agrees that a minimum of 3 lanes would be necessary," says Alec Farmer, a member of Jonesboro's City Council and on the Public Works Committee.

Farmer mentioned that they had been unofficially informed that Yarbrough has filed legal papers to take his property back. Yarbrough never mentioned that to us, but did make it clear he wants what he was originally promised by the city.

"At this point, it appears there is no right-of-way for the city to build the road on. We're going to have to start at square one," says Farmer.

The Public Works Committee will have their next meeting to discuss the plans for Lawson Road Tuesday, June 6th at 4:30 P.M.