After nearly two years of construction and 40 years of planning, the overpass on Highway 89 in Mayflower is now open to traffic. The overpass has been discussed for years as a solution to the previous Highway 89 railroad crossing that caused delays for the thousands of vehicles that used the crossing every day, as well as emergency vehicles in the area.
“This idea that we’re celebrating today was on the planning calendar when Lyndon Johnson was president,” U.S. Rep. French Hill joked at a ribbon cutting for the overpass at Northside Apostolic Church in Mayflower on Friday. “We’re not rushing into things here, but by God, we get things done in Faulkner County.”
Many state and local officials attended the ribbon cutting on Friday, including State Rep. David Ray, State Sen. Mark Johnson, Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson, former County Judge Judge Jim Baker and several Justices of the Peace.
“Just this morning, we woke up to the news that there was a death in Clark County at a railroad crossing,” Hill said. “We’ve all put an emphasis on economic development, but public safety is also critical here. We want to get our Eagles safe to and from schools, we want to be able to respond to emergencies and we want to have the kind of circular traffic pattern that creates safety for all of Faulkner County.”
Arkansas Highway Commission member Marie Holder said she was excited to take part in the ribbon cutting for “a $23.6 million improvement” in Mayflower, recognizing the Arkansas Department of Transportation, Metroplan, the City of Mayflower and Faulkner County for partnering together to complete the overpass. Emery Sapp & Sons, Inc., built the overpass, Holder said.
“Not only did they do a great job, but they did the work with several challenges in this construction site,” Holder said. “These improvements were completed while Highway 89 remained open to traffic through the railroad overpass site. The traffic count through that area is just under 10,000 vehicles a day.”
Holder said Mayflower residents “now have a much safer way to cross the railroad tracks as they go about their business to shop, get to school and travel to the office.”
As previously reported in the Log Cabin Democrat, the groundbreaking for the Highway 89 overpass project took place in May of 2021. At that event, Hill said the bypass would be “transformational for Mayflower and Faulkner County.”
On Friday, Johnson said the overpass was a “multi-generational dream,” discussing the economic impact that the construction of overpasses at Conway railroad crossings had on the city.
“Those of you who grew up in Faulkner County remember when there were no overpasses in Conway over the railroad tracks,” Johnson said. “Can you imagine what would happen today if you didn’t have those? How different the city of Conway would be? Mayflower is on the threshold of that too.”
The new overpass opened at about 7 p.m. on Thursday night. Now that the overpass is open, a detour is necessary to divert traffic to the overpass to finish the construction of the Interstate 40 East on-ramp, remove the old Highway 89 bridge and complete the intersection near Lake Conway.
Staff Writer Kolton Rutherford can be reached at krutherford@the
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