Highway Projects

A couple of weeks ago the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce began a membership event and a membership event specialist, from Dallas, Texas. He talked about three things that local Chambers of Commerce need to concentrate on to be successful. Those include legislation, education and transportation.

That really got us thinking about all of the projects going on throughout Region 8. This week we thought we would share some of those stats with you about those projects and how they are impacting our region.

Consider This:

The major project that will have the biggest impact on the entire area is the planned conversion of Hwy 63 to Interstate 555 within a few years. Most of the projects will be complete in 2007 with the Hwy 135 project just south of Tyronza expected to be finalized in mid-2008. When the five projects that are currently under construction are complete in 2008 the highway will have met the requirement for interstate designation. It may be a little longer before the conversion actually takes place, but that is merely a formality of the process.

Millions and Millions of dollars have been invested in this upgrade and we will all benefit from the development. Most often the smaller communities bypassed by these highways are the areas that are most concerned about loss of business, but in the majority of cases the new highways provide greater business opportunities due to the increased volume of traffic volume which ultimately means more revenue and more jobs. The commercial and residential development in the Bono area near the new section of Hwy 63 is a perfect example.

Other projects sure to spark additional development include the widening of Highway 412 in Greene County, the continuing push of Highway 67 from Newport to Highway 37, the completion of the Johnson & Dan Avenue expansion and the widening of Highway 49.

Even with all the highway construction underway we are still missing one vital piece of the puzzle. Northeast Arkansas does not have a 4 lane connection to our state capital in Little Rock once you get north of Newport.

Yes, construction continues on Hwy 67 but it will be many, many years before the connection is made where 63 & 67 connect at Hoxie/Walnut Ridge. Jonesboro, serving as the hub of Northeast Arkansas, needs a direct link to highway 67. Discussions are taking place, but nothing is finalized and we are a long way before we see any movement of dirt.

The area Chambers of Commerce are pushing for this connection. You can help by informing your political representatives and the Arkansas Highway Dept. that this project needs to be a priority. As nice as it will be to have Interstate access to Memphis... it would be even nicer to have the same connection to the largest city right here in Arkansas.

Make sure you tune in next week... we'll share your comments on the motorcycle topics we discussed a few weeks ago.

In the meantime we want your feedback. What's on your mind? Just log onto kait8.com and click on Consider This or send an e-mail to the commentary committee at considerthis@kait8.com or call us with your comments at 870.336.1899.

Have a great week.