Proposed Interstate Connection will help Economy in Brinkley

July 5, 2006 -- Posted at 5:01 p.m. CDT

BRINKLEY, AR -- A better roadway will translate to a better economy, that's the assessment of Brinkley, Arkansas officials who are calling for changes to Interstate 40.

"In June we traveled to Clarksdale, Mississippi to attend a meeting that was held by the Central Delta Regional Authority concerning the widening of Highway 49 from Helena to Brinkley, and from Helena to Clarksdale, Mississippi," said Jennifer Martin, President of the Brinkley Chamber of Commerce.

Several representatives from Brinkley made the trip and came back with a new vision for the future.

"We've all seen the need, and there's many things that we in this area can do to enhance our economy that would be best for everyone," said Brinkley Mayor Billy Clay.

Highway 49 comes right into Brinkley, and widening that thoroughfare would be beneficial to travelers.

"That will alleviate a lot of the traffic on Interstate 40 going down that direction or coming up from the Mississippi and the coast," said Clay.

This connector wouldn't directly connect I-40 and I-55, but it would provide more space, and more opportunities.

"I think it would be a great opportunity for out town to possibly be able to grow and to have more commerce coming in here," said Martin.

Brinkley Mayor Billy Clay says the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce in Memphis attended the meeting in Mississippi, and is very interested in this project as well.

"They feel like this will economically enhance them and also work on their air pollution problems in that area," said Clay.

More and more people have been coming in and out of Brinkley in the past year or so, and having this connector would only increase traffic in this area and business for Brinkley.

"We feel like economically, it's a necessity that will help Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee," said Clay.

Backers of the proposal also say a highway linking Brinkley to Clarksdale, Mississippi, would provide an alternate evacuation route for I-40 or I-55 if an earthquake occurs.

If the Delta Regional Authority is granted federal funding for the project, it will be several years before it is completed.