August 1, 2006 - Posted at 4:52 p.m. CDT
POCAHONTAS, AR -- U.S. Highway 67...it's a stretch of road that runs entirely through Region 8. The corridor connects St. Louis to Little Rock, but is only two lanes in many places.
As we continue our "Good Neighbor Community Spotlight" on Randolph County, K8 News examines how the future of this highway is impacting the economy of towns like Pocahontas.
"When you think about this project and that it was started 50 years ago, 45, 50 years ago and it's still not completed, it's just a shame, it should be done," said Wayne Gearhart, Executive Director of the Pocahontas Chamber of Commerce.
Folks in Randolph County would like to see Highway 67 made into four lanes all the way from Newport to the Missouri state line. For residents in Pocahontas, it's vital for the town's economy.
"It's a huge advantage if you are on an interstate or a four lane highway," said Gearhart.
"We've got to have it to keep moving forward," said Pocahontas Mayor Gary Crocker, "If we don't get it, we're just going to be challenged to be staying up with other parts of the state."
A lack of funding is part of the reason the Arkansas Highways and Transportation Department hasn't already been four laned Highway 67 north. Over the next 10 years, there are $19 billion dollars worth of projects and a little over $4 billion dollars worth of funding. But town officials are confident that where there is a will, there is a way.
"I'm optimistic that we're going to keep after it to see that it gets done. I think we've got a lot of people that are committed to the project and I think all of us up here realize how important it is to us," said Crocker.