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Outdated design of Highway 67/167 access roads making it less safe for Jacksonville drivers

<p>This night-time accident that resulted in one of the vehicles toppling over took place along the yield signs/access road of Highway 67/167 in Jacksonville. Dangerous driving conditions along the highway is a common experience with how outdated the incoming and outgoing traffic lanes are along the highway in Jacksonville. (Photo by Greg Rayburn)</p>Buy Photo

This night-time accident that resulted in one of the vehicles toppling over took place along the yield signs/access road of Highway 67/167 in Jacksonville. Dangerous driving conditions along the highway is a common experience with how outdated the incoming and outgoing traffic lanes are along the highway in Jacksonville. (Photo by Greg Rayburn)

Major interstate highways are typically safer to drive upon because the engineering is safer than other less developed roads. However, such is not the case for motorists planning to go into or leave Jacksonville via Interstate 67/167 along several locations.

Motorists traveling between 60-70 mph who exit the highway find that they have very little time to go from high speeds to access road stop signs. At the stop sign, they face two-way traffic and not one-way as has been the trend in traffic design engineering in recent decades.

About three years ago, the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department redesigned the access roads around the Sherwood/North Little Rock area. However, such modernizing work has yet to be done in the Jacksonville area.

“They have upgraded the standards since it was put in,” said Jacksonville City Engineer Jay Whisker. “They don’t build those anymore.”

Whisker said traffic designs where all traffic moves in the same direction is safer.

“You are no longer in a head to head collision situation,” Whisker said. “The freeway was built in the 50s.”

Whisker said highways change designs for two primary reasons.

“First it is done to reduce traffic accidents; and second, to void fatalities,” he said.

On Nov. 30, Jacksonville police responded to the 2000 block of John Harden Drive in reference to a rollover accident.

Upon arrival, officers made contact with the first driver, Kyle Winebrenner, of Cabot, who said he thought he had enough time to proceed past the yield sign but the second driver, Aaron Roller, of Jacksonville, was travelling at a higher rate of speed than he thought and his passenger side struck the passenger side of Roller’s 1995 Ford Explorer.

Police made contact with the three occupants in Roller’s vehicle in the emergency room of North Metro Hospital.

Roller told police he was getting on the freeway in front of Starbucks when a vehicle hit his passenger side. “Next thing he knew he was upside down on the shoulder,” states the accident report.

One of Roller’s passengers, Joshua Roller, said that while his brother merged onto the freeway a yellow Camero hit their passenger side.

The police department’s investigation concluded that Winebrenner failed to yield at the yield sign and struck Roller’s vehicle, causing the vehicle to turn over onto the shoulder of 67/167 in the southbound lane.

Winebrenner was issued a citation for failure to yield. Winebrenner’s 2012 Chevrolet Camaro sustained $3,000 in damage while the Ford Explorer had $7,500 in damage, according to the police report.

A spokesman for the AHTD says help is on the way converting the access roads from two-way traffic to one way.

David Niles, an AHTD spokesman, said plans are in the works to convert the access roads along the Main and Vandenberg exits.

“As far as one way, those are going to be one way when we do our next two projects.,” Niles said. “All will be converted.”

The Main and Vandenberg areas will be converted to one way in 2016.

The state then plans to do the same work in the Highway 89 area but no specific year has been determined yet, Niles said.

Niles said two-lane access roads are not as safe.

“I drove those two lanes recently and this is so strange because I am so used to one way,” Niles said. “Once they are converted, people will really like it and it will be a great deal safer.”

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