A local official is hoping public comments will make improvements on Highway 7 between Arkadelphia and Hot Springs a priority project.
Public comment is being sought in regard to the Arkansas Transportation and Highway Department Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan.
According to Representative Johnnie Roebuck, although there are some improvements throughout the state in the STIP, none listed for Arkansas Highway 7 between Arkadelphia and south of Hot Springs at Highway 290.
“Good and safe infrastructure is the key to attracting visitors and permanent residents,” said Roebuck. “Our ultimate goal would be four lane all the way. However, even two or three more passing lanes would be better than nothing.”
Roebuck said she addressed her concerns during a recent legislative State Agencies Committee. She also urged Scott Bennett, Director of the Arkansas Transportation and Highway Department to consider several factors that point to the need for the improvements.
Roebuck noted a “definite link between economic development and infrastructure and that one cannot be done without the other.”
In addition, Roebuck said the closest major medical center for Clark County is Garland County and that a safe route is needed.
Roebuck also noted that higher education is a major industry in Clark County with Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University.
“Highway 7 connects HSU and OBU with a student pool in Hot Spring and Garland County and helps our partnership with National Park Community College,” said Roebuck.
Arkansas Highway 7 has been designated the “Highway of Hope” and deserves attention so visitors will travel the route.
Roebuck said Highway 7 is a “scenic byway” and thousands of visitors travel this highway annually and that Clark ant Hot Spring Counties are becoming a popular destination for tourists and retirees due to DeGray Lake and the State Park.
While the one-half cent tax on the ballot in November cannot be used for Highway 7, Roebuck said it could be used for other projects in Arkansas and free existing budgeted funds for Highway 7.
According to Roebuck, the Highway Commission will review comments and vote on the plan at their next meeting this Wednesday.
Roebuck hopes citizens will voice their concerns as soon as possible.
Citizens who would like to voice their concerns may visit www.arkansashighways.com or call the AHTD at (501) 569-2900.