(St. Francis Co., AR) The drive to Little Rock is about to take a lot longer, thanks to a major construction project near Forrest City on Interstate 40.
At different times, part of east or westbound lanes will be closed, forcing drivers to share lanes.
Forrest City's economy benefits from travelers on I-40 and Mayor Larry Bryant hopes the construction has a silver lining,
"They're going to probably grind, tear out, repair bridges and re-surface the interstate. And it should make for smooth sailing," he said.
Bryant said he hopes all that construction doesn't have a negative impact on local businesses.
Starting Sunday, June 9th, night crews will close one side of I-40 for an eight mile stretch, alternating traffic from one side of the interstate the other.
That means over the next year traffic will be down to two lanes and crawling,
Mayor Larry Bryant, says "That is a 'money haven' for us, should I say. About 25 percent of our sales tax comes off the interstate."
Highway 70 is an alternate route for drivers. It goes through the south side of Forrest City and right in front of Debbie's Flowers.
Debbie McCluskey is the owner.
"Construction always needs to be done. And we know that the interstate needs work on it right now," she said.
She and her staff are planning some changes to attract potential new customers passing by the flower store.
"I always try to decorate the outside of my building, real colorful, getting ready for the Fourth of July. So maybe that will bring people in," McClusky said.
The construction has businesses next to the interstate a little worried.
Ashley Boone is the sales director at the new Holiday Inn Express in Forrest City,
"The interstate business is pretty much our business. That's where we get it all from," she said.
She says the construction could be good or bad for the 7-month-old hotel, depending on how you look at it.
"Where are they going to detour to? Are they detouring away from us, or closer to us? Is it going to take away business or bombard us with business...which we would love," she said.
Construction crews will start preliminary work Friday night, June 7th, at the Widener, Ark., exit.