September 10, 2008 Edition

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Hwy. 67 Coalition meets in Corning

A delegation from Lawrence County was in Corning Aug. 28 to attend a meeting of the Missouri/Arkansas Highway 67 Coalition.

Lawrence County members of the coalition attending the two-state meeting were County Judge Alex Latham, Hoxie Mayor Donnie Roberts, former State Rep. Don House and Clay Sloan, who is past chairman of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Board.

House, who chairs the Arkansas delegation from Lawrence, Randolph and Clay counties, spoke at the meeting praising the Arkansas Highway Commission for their commitment to getting the 36-mile stretch from Newport to Walnut Ridge built to interstate specifications.

At the meeting, District 11 Chief Engineer Joe Barnett of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department stated that the new stretch of freeway is now complete from Newport to Highway 37 east of Tuckerman.

Barnett said the bridges, overpasses, dirt and crushed stonework is all but complete on Hwy. 67 from Highway 37 to Highway 226, east of Swifton. He said the concrete paving contract for this stretch has been let and paving will begin soon.

Barnett also said the contract for dirt and structure work has been let between Highway 226 and 230 east of Alicia, and that in early 2009, the contract for clearing and fencing work will be let for the final stretch from Highway 230 to the Hoxie/Walnut Ridge bypass.

House said all of this is good news for the region.

It could be several decades before the interstate-spec highway is completed to the Missouri line, added House, who is also a board member of the Good Roads Arkansas.

The Arkansas delegation of the coalition has adopted an alternate plan to address the more immediate needs, and redevelop current Highway 67 into a super rural highway similar to the portion between Walnut Ridge and Pocahontas. House said that the idea is catching on and will cost about half of what the interstate spec freeway will cost.

Leaders from Clay, Randolph and Lawrence Counties are currently gathering support of regional legislators and from leaders of cities and towns that will be directly affected, House said. The Arkansas/Missouri Coalition passed a resolution at the Aug. 28 meeting in support of the redevelopment project.

The future interstate-spec highway has not been abandoned, but the leaders felt a more practical design is necessary for the region at this time. "The interstate is too many years away. We need to get ready for Missouri's (Hwy. 67 upgrade) completion, which is much further advanced than Arkansas'," House said.

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