Proposed Bypass Taking New Route After Public Speaks Out

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) -- A proposed highway corridor running through Region 8 has a new route after the public speaks out.

The proposed bypass would have taken traffic through the heart of the Crowley's Ridge College campus in Paragould and would have required the destruction of at least one dormitory on campus.

"We're glad to have the new roads in and around the college campuses but we are glad the highway route has been changed to not interfere with the college campus," said CRC President Ken Hoppe.

The 200 students at Crowley's Ridge College in Paragould could have been crossing the four lane to get to class. But thanks to a rigorous campaign by supporters and alumni, this quiet campus will remain intact.

"We were thrilled that it seemed that this became a very hot topic for most of the people that were associated with our institution in the past and they wanted to have their voice heard and believed it would not be in the college's best interest to have the highway to come through the college's campus," said Hoppe.

"A big part of this process is to take public comments and we received numerous public comments objecting to it going through the college and we took those into consideration and other environmental issues and as a result of that changes were proposed," said AHTD District 10 Engineer Joe Barnett.

After deciding that the proposed highway corridor won't go through the heart of the Crowley's Ridge College Campus, the Arkansas Highway Transportation Department is now proposing a route at the intersection of Highway 412 and 72nd Street in Paragould.

The AHTD plans to have a location public hearing later this year where they will select an alignment and start plan development.  Construction should be expected in the next 2-3 years.

"The environmental process is ongoing and these changes are not the only changes that could be made," said Barnett, "We are still considering public comments and other factors so this process is ongoing and will be until an alignment is selected."

Four proposed routes are being considered by the highway department...two south, one north and one expanding 412.