AHTD presents options for Highway 67 expansion to Missouri

AHTD presents options for Highway 67 expansion to Missouri

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - It's a project that has been on their radar for nearly two decades and now that U.S. Highway 67 from North Little Rock to Walnut Ridge is nearing completion, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department is looking at what's next.

In the coming years, the trip from Little Rock to St. Louis could be much easier. Travel time could be cut anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.

"It obviously has statewide, regional, as well as local impacts," Randy Ort told Region 8 News.

Ort, public information officer for the AHTD, said a series of meetings in Pocahontas and Corning happened two years ago about Highway 67 improvements.

However, the options either weren't popular or they had a large environmental and community impact with little travel time improvements.

Now, the highway department is bringing new possibilities to the table.

"If we can wrap this up, identify the corridors that we want to take forward into the much more detailed environmental process, then we can come back here in the next couple of years and show people much more refined alternatives," Ort explained.

Ort said routes two and five would more closely follow the existing US Highway 67 where as route four would go the way of Highways 34 and 90.

However, each possible route has its obstacles.

"You have a lot of wetlands in this area, a lot of rivers in this area, a lot of water crossings," Ort said. "Those things, any elevated roadway or bridge increases the cost of the project."

Though route two would cross more creeks and rivers, routes four and five would run closer to the Black River Wildlife Management Area. Those differences equal a big spread in dollar amount.

"They range anywhere from $250 to about $450 million dollars. This is about a 40 mile long corridor," Ort said.

That means AHTD is looking for feedback on this expensive, important project.

"You can speculate all you want but until you see it first hand, you can't give an opinion," Pocahontas resident Verna Dudley said.

Thursday, Corning residents will have the chance to check out those options as well. The meeting takes place at the community center from 4-7 p.m..

If you weren't able to make it to either meeting, AHTD still wants to hear from you.

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