Alma Highway Project Meant To Ease Traffic, Improve Emergency Response Time

ALMA (KFSM) -- Arkansas Highway 162 is being moved to the east, and part of the project includes a bridge, so traffic will no longer have to stop at the railroad tracks for trains.

“We have a real problem,” Mayor Keith Greene said, "If you have an emergency and the train`s coming through, you`re stuck on either side of the track.”

By the spring of 2017, that’s all going to change. Mayor Greene said it will be the first time in about 140 years north and southbound traffic won’t have to stop because of a train.

“I live right next to it in the apartments right next to it, so it`s really loud, but I think it`s awesome because it does take a long time and traffic does back up a lot,” Jessica Parks said.

“We've got a main street program that we could start once we finishe the bridge,” Mayor Greene said.

The city bought several buildings on Fayetteville Ave., and some will be torn down to make more space for parking. It’s expected to look more like a boulevard by 2018.

“It`ll be parallel parking, and we`ll have some off street parking where these buildings are going to be removed,” Mayor Greene said.

Before the streetscape work can begin, the city has quite a bit of work left to do on the $9.5 million highway relocation project. The mayor said the project is only about a third of the way done, but residents like Jessica Parks said it will be worth the wait.

“I`ve been waiting out here for a while because of the buses and the trains, and I think it will cut back on traffic,” she said. “I think it`s good.”

Mayor Greene said $2 million of the project came from the city and the rest comes from state funding, which they’ve waited several years to get.