Some areas in our state are more connected to others. Connectivity is one of the major reasons why. Why live in a rural area if you want to be connected to the world? Some of these areas that are trying to grow, like the Arkansas River Valley, need some help with their connectivity. Starting on the west side of the state and moving east let’s begin in Fort Smith. I’m specifically targeting crossings of the Arkansas River. U.S. Hwy 64, I-40, AR Hwy 59, and eventually I-49 will all be river crossings from the Fort Smith/Sebastian County area to the Alma-Van Buren/Crawford County area. The next river crossing is AR Hwy 23 in the Ozark/Franklin County area. What if they had another? How would this help the area? Thinking this way, Charleston would make sense to have a connection to the north. What about connecting AR Hwy 215? This is the designation of 3 different sections of state highway 215 in Arkansas:
The 3 red lines represent AR Hwy 215. Now Hwy 215 doesn’t travel all the way down to Charleston, it connects oddly to AR Hwy 217 and that is the designation to Charleston from Franklin County Roads 31 and 221. I say lets cut all that confusion out and make AR Hwy 215’s southern terminus be AR Hwy 22 in Charleston. Now that part is over let us get back to connectivity. AR Hwy 215 stops at AR Hwy 96 just west of Cecil (that’s the bottom red line). To connect it to the next red line in Mulberry would only take 5.3 miles. Like this:
Continuing AR Hwy 215 across the river to Vine Prairie Road and following that alignment until it intersects Hwy 917S. Once we get to Hwy 917S it is due north to U.S. Hwy 64 in Mulberry. Hwy 917S is 1 mile long, so technically we would only be adding 4.3 miles to the grid. This would successfully connect 2 sections of AR Hwy 215 from Charleston all the way to northwestern Franklin County.
The next river crossing is AR Hwy 109 from the little community Morrison Bluff to Clarksville. How could we have another river crossing from Logan into Johnson County? Lets start in Scranton, which is a little south of Morrison Bluff. Scranton is where AR Hwy 109 intersects AR Hwy 197. FYI: I looked at trying to make something work from Paris, but this idea I am about to present would work in connecting Paris as well. Paris is only 20 minutes or so from Charleston and the same time distance to Scranton, so either way Paris would now be better connected to the other side of the river and I-40. The idea is to extend AR Hwy 197 across the river to Knoxville. Something like this:
This gives some of Hwy 197 back to the county and takes over some other roads. At the first red dot where Hwy 197 turns south, I propose turning it north on Garrison Road until the second red dot which would turn the alignment east on the Tokalon Road alignment. This would stay the same until we cross the river and tie into Jenkins Ferry Road in Knoxville. We extend Jenkins Ferry Road across some railroad tracks to School Street. The alignment stays on School Street and ties into Plum Street, Plum Street is directly across U.S. Hwy 64 from AR Hwy 315. So why not rename that section of Hwy 315 to call it Hwy 197? This idea adds another 6.21 miles to the state highway grid. I believe this would better connect the river valley.
The next river crossing is on AR Hwy 7 from Dardanelle to Russellville. Where can we find another area to cross from Yell County to Pope County? AR Hwy 154 begins in Danville and runs east for 41 miles to AR Hwy 113 east of Oppelo. I would like to look at an area in between New Neely and Pontoon. Here we see a road running in a northerly direction towards the Arkansas River. Carden Bottoms Road. This road would be a good candidate to take across the river and tie into AR Hwy 105 that runs from south of Atkins to Hector. It would look like this:
This adds 3.68 miles to AR Hwy 105. The section west of the new intersection can be given to Pope County. Having a connection across the river other than AR Hwy 7 from Pope County to Yell County is very badly needed in my opinion and this idea would accomplish that.
The next river crossing is AR Hwy 9, this connects Oppelo and parts of northern Perry County to Morrilton and Conway County. After that AR Hwy 60 connects Perryville and Houston in Perry County to Conway and Faulkner County. Another route that connects Perry County to Pulaski County is AR Hwy 10, but you are south of the Arkansas River there. Once we are in Pulaski County we have I-430, the Broadway Bridge, the Main Street Bridge, I-30, & I-440 to get across the Arkansas River.
I believe these 3 proposed river crossings would benefit the Arkansas River Valley’s cities be better connected. The counties south of the river: Logan and Yell would be better connected to counties on the north side: Crawford and Johnson (Franklin county is on both sides of the river).
Until next week