Could a future decrease in traffic hurt Tuckerman's economy?

TUCKERMAN- It's a city nearly split in half by Highway 67.

Everyday thousands drive through Tuckerman as they travel north and south.

But with the new four-lane Highway 67 set to open in a couple of years, could this have an affect on the local economy?

"It might stop us from trying to get some kind of industry in, which we'd like to do, but that might hurt us. The way we are today, I don't think it would have any bad affects on us," said councilman Bearl Bennett.

However, some think otherwise.

Councilman Ron Koller has been in Tuckerman for years and even served as fire chief.

He says he travels a lot, and fears Tuckerman could become like Judsonia - a town that had the same thing happen years ago as Highway 67 took much of its traffic away.

"I noticed a lot of businesses were closed, gone, and moved off. Old truck stops are boarded up, and stuff like that. So, I think it's going to have a tremendous affect on the City, more than what people realize," said Koller.

Police Chief Ron Black says he really doesn't think Tuckerman will lose as much traffic as everyone thinks.

"It's (the new Highway 67) so far out of town, that most people are not going to go driving 8 or 9 miles out of town just to get on a four-lane to Newport, when they can stay on the two-lane and be there in 8 minutes," said Black.

The chief says, one benefit to the new highway will be less truck traffic through the main parts of the city, and says when it comes to any money made from ticketing it probably won't be a problem.

"Most of our ticket is local traffic with DWI's, traffic violations, and things of this nature. I don't think it will affect us a great deal," said Black.

However, Koller feels that even the loss of truck traffic could hurt businesses struggling to stay alive.

"They have to have traffic to survive, and without that traffic they are not going to survive. So, why build a 300-thousand dollar business in a town that can't support it, because of that very fact, of the highway being gone," said Koller.

Most that live in Tuckerman say they will continue to use the old highway, because it's simply the road they are used to driving, but there are fears that as exits pop up along the new highway, so will new businesses.

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department tells us the new portion of Highway 67 that would by-pass Tuckerman is set to open in two to two and a half years.

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