Independence County official proposes short-term fix for roll-overs on Ramsey Mountain

Updated: Sep. 2, 2020 at 10:12 PM CDT
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INDEPENDENCE CO., Ark. (KAIT) - In Independence County, many are familiar with the big curve on Ramsey Mountain that connects Batesville and Southside.

Highway 167 is also known for having rollovers that can shut down the highway for numerous hours.

County Judge Robert Griffin is suggesting a short-term fix while the idea of a bypass still sits in uncertainty.

“What I believe is best is to have a barrier with blinders, so that the workers are protected from traffic on the access road. At the same time, rubberneckers can’t go by look and possibly create another wreck. So you’ll have ingress and egress up and down the mountain. That is separate from the main traffic pattern, to be able to allow the workers to be safe and be able to allow traffic to flow,” Griffin said.

After the county, the city of Batesville and Southside purchased Ramsey Mountain in Nov. 2019, they are now looking to make an improvement by adding an access road with a barrier for a highway that sees rollovers often.

Around 25,000 vehicles travel on Highway 167 every day, several of them large trucks.

While many of the accidents do not shut down the highway, there have been times when it has. View the graph below for the number of hours some accidents left the highway Out of Service (OOS).

February 10
OOS 35 minutes
May 12
OOS 12 hours
January 6
OOS 55 minutes
January 23
OOS 4 hours 5 minutes
March 26
OOS 1 hour 22 minutes
February 19
OOS 1 hour 33 minutes
April 24
OOS 1 hour 32 minutes
June 4
OOS 2 hours 6 minutes
October 22
OOS 1 hour 14 minutes
January 27
OOS 2 hours 7 minutes
August 30
OOS 7 hours 8 minutes
August 16
OOS 1 hour 40 minutes
November 30
OOS 1 hour 5 minutes
Februrary 18
OOS 1 hour 19 minutes
September 21
OOS 1 hour 18 minutes
August 22
OOS 2 hours 1 minute
December 14
OOS 2 hours 19 minutes
March 6
OOS 1 hour 18 minutes
September 23
OOS 5 hours 23 minutes
March 7
OOS 1 hour 2 minutes
October 22
OOS 1 hour 46 minutes

According to Griffin, the accidents listed above are “not necessarily the only ones but ones of note..”

“When you’re dealing with emergency services, school children, people are expecting children back at a certain time, they need to be at the school at a certain time and a rollover happens and stops all of that for three hours; the very closest route around will take well over an hour to go all the way through Oil Trough to come back through,” Griffin said.

For everyday workers, students and even those trying to make it to the hospital for emergency care, that drive, according to Griffin, is an inconvenience.

But, with the help of the Federal Highway Act, inexpensive materials and already owning the equipment to make it happen, Judge Griffin says they are just looking to get ArDOT to cover the rest of the expense.

The ArDOT District 5 Engineer’s office is only a few minutes from Ramsey Mountain and the engineer, Bruce Street, is in support of the project.

“It’s definitely worth investigating and if a solution can be made, this will be the cheapest alternative with the given conditions,” Street said. “If we can work something out, this could be the short-term fix for ultimately getting the bypass around Batesville to provide a second access over the river,” Street said.

He says the department has to look at what it’s going to cost them to complete it and the last estimate Street received was more than $1 million.

He says ArDOT is conducting a study on the highway at this time and could have an answer on what’s next this fall.

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