Representatives from the Arkansas Department of Transportation and Metroplan met with area residents during an open-house public meeting Monday to discuss developing the Arkansas Highway 89 Corridor, the third such meeting to gather public comment on the proposal.


While a four-lane roadway west from Cabot to Interstate 40 is not supported in a draft transportation study, the segment closest to Cabot could become a priority lifesaver in the near future.


The Arkansas Highway 89 corridor study was approved by Metroplan in early 2016, following the 2017 decision to remove the North Belt Freeway, a westward connection of U.S. Highway 67/167 to I-40, from the regional long-range transportation plan.


According to information from ArDOT, the draft corridor study does not support a four-lane roadway between Cabot and I-40, but it does show the two-mile segment between U.S. Highway 67/167 and Arkansas Highway 5, “needs to be upgraded to a four-lane section immediately.”


Virginia Porta, an engineer with the department, said this is the earliest part of long-range transportation planning leading up to any decision on funding.


She added that the draft corridor study, conducted by Garver Engineers, shows the two miles of Highway 89 between U.S. Highway 67/167 to have the worst accident rate and level of service of any other section of the corridor. Since renovation of exit 19 at Cabot is already scheduled to begin in 2020, it is possible that expansion of Highway 89 to four lanes could become part of the project, she said.


These considerations are part of the public comments being sought by officials.


Widening Highway 89 to four lanes, is the top priority in the corridor study with an estimated cost of $21.1 million.


Other improvements could include widening some roads to three lanes, widening shoulders and intersections.


Other improvements could include about four miles of Republican Road


Affected roads would be about four miles of Republican Road from the Faulkner‑Pulaski County Line to Arkansas Highway 107, costing about $24.6 million; 10 miles of Highway 89 north of Camp Robinson at $43.3 million; I‑40 to Clinton Road (3‑Lane) $43.3 million; Faulkner‑Pulaski County Line to Highway 5 (2‑Lane) $54.2 million.


Public comment may be made online, until July 16, at http://metroplan.org/content/public-comment, select “Highway 89 July 9, 2018 Public meeting-Comment Form”