The City of Siloam Springs and the Arkansas Highway Department are partnering to build an overpass over the Kansas City Southern Railroad tracks on Highway 43.
The $12 million project will “deeply impact the city,” according to Siloam Springs city officials. Highway 43 is also known as Cheri Witlock Drive, which is a major road used to access Siloam Springs High School and the hospital.
However, the train sometimes stops travel to those places. Gary Seritchfield has lived near hwy 43 since 2005. He said he can’t imagine being an ambulance driver during an emergency.
“Sometimes they don’t have time sit there and wait for a train, they need to get the patient to the hospital as quickly as possible,” Seritchfield said.
Seritchfield said the train can take anything from five to 15 minutes.
“Somebody would be caught by a train and maybe not make it to the hospital in time,” Seritchfield said.
In front of the hospital is the Siloam Springs High School and some students walk to school and have to cross the train tracks.
“That’s still scary personally if it was my child I wouldn’t be happy about it,” Shelley Klutts said.
Klutts said she has lived in Siloam Springs for seven years. She said her daughter drives to high school and deals with the train almost daily.
“The train hits on perfect time on her way to school so I know she’s waiting sometimes even running late school cause of the train,” Klutts said.
The city expects to pay for 20 percent of the project.
“Personally I think it’s a great idea. I think it will definitely limit the traffic issues we have,” Klutts said.
Seritchfield said, “I think the city is making an excellent choice by doing this.”
A date hasn’t been set to start construction. However, once the project is complete, the city will maintain highway 43 between highway 264 and highway 59.
The overpass project is eligible for federal safety funds.