MAUMELLE, ARK (KTHV) - All eyes may be on the November 6th election but voters on Tuesday head to the polls in Maumelle. And a "yes" vote on one of the ballot questions could pave the way for a new interchange serving the growing community.
In all, Maumelle voters will see three questions on the ballot Tuesday. One of them asks them to approve funding for the extension of Counts Massie Road to a former rest area on Interstate 40. City leaders believe that if voters approve the extension, it could mean a new interchange for that area.
Just beyond these concrete road blocks is a former I-40 highway rest area, east of Maumelle. The old ramp passes through overgrown trees to an empty lot, and all of it on Maumelle's radar screen for years.
"The interchange, the city's been working on it since 1996, money was appropriated in 2005 to do the design for the interchange," Mayor Mike Watson said.
Mayor Watson says the city needs a new way in and out town to reduce traffic on Maumelle Boulevard. And help could come from Tuesday's election.
"Basically if we can get the Counts Massie extension out there through this bond issue, then we think that will lead the highway department to approve funding for the interchange," Watson said.
This map shows the proposed westward extension of Counts Massie Road to I-40. It would run along the dotted line about a mile, reaching that old highway rest area for eastbound traffic.
"It could easily take 2,000 to 4,000 cars a day off the boulevard by simply people living directly adjacent to Counts Massie using that instead of coming down and getting on the boulevard," Watson said.
It would all lighten the load through town.
"Anybody that travels Maumelle Boulevard knows that it's a traffic nightmare during the rush hours," Watson said.
But it's all in the hands of voters to get cars possibly exiting through this rest area again, down the road.
Mayor Watson says the extension of Counts Massie Road, as well as some improvements to the road leading up to its dead end, will cost around $9 million. And the ballot question will ask voters to extend a current property milleage to fund that.
As far opposition, Mayor Watson says that some residents feel the city should wait until state funding is secured before extending Counts Massie.
A state highway department spokesman says this interchange project is not in any current funding plans. But Mayor Watson feels confident that the city can convince highway commissioners in a matter of time to move forward.