Leader Blues

Monday, February 26, 2007

TOP STORY >>Cabot mayor calls summit a success

IN SHORT: Necessary road work will cost Cabot $200 million, officials told.

Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams is calling his Friday traffic summit a phenomenal success.

The turnout of 50 or so local leaders, as well as elected officials from the state and federal level, along with state highway officials, was better than he expected. Dan Flowers, director of the state Highway Department, was taking notes and made promises to help the city with affordable projects that could help the traffic congestion.

Flowers said the Highway Department will help with timing the city’s traffic lights, re-stripe some streets to create extra lanes, widen some intersections and lengthen some turning lanes. Additionally, Williams said Flowers told him after the summit that he will appoint someone to work with Cabot on its traffic problems.

Metroplan, which distributes federal road money, has completed a draft of a study that identifies $200 million in work that needs to be done in Cabot, which has less than $2 million to spend on roads.

The study identified Hwy. 89 in downtown Cabot as the third most congested street in central Arkansas. Widening Hwy. 89 has been estimated to cost at least $20 million.

Williams also wants a third interchange built on the north end of town in conjunction with the railroad overpass that should be under construction this summer.

A committee appointed by Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman has recommended that a third interchange be built between the two existing interchanges. But there is no money to build an interchange in either location. Flowers told the leaders who gathered for the summit that the best way to get anything built is to first have a firm plan.

“We need to have all these things we’ve talked about in a plan,” he said. “We need a plan and we need to stick with it.”
Flowers said the project list should be prioritized and the state would work with the city to get them done.