Black Rock highway called unsafe by many

BLACK ROCK, Ark. – A path of roadway where construction crews have been busy at work is being called unsafe by many in the community, including an elected representative.

Justice of the Peace Lloyd Clark is calling the path of U.S. 63/Highway 412 running from Portia through Black Rock a hazardous area.

“If you’re driving an 18 wheeler at night and you’ve never been that way, you’ve got to be able to see it,” Clark said. “Just anybody driving. And when it’s wet, dark, rainy – you can’t see anything.”

When you come into Portia, construction crews are connecting the four-lane from the east and south end of Portia all the way over to the bridge. At the Portia area of the construction, crews put in new sidewalks on both sides and raised it, making it four-lane with a lane in the middle.

“That is relatively well marked and placed,” Clark said.

It’s when you get through Portia, on your way to Black Rock over the bridge, that the problems start to appear. From where the old gas station, now a Valero, all the way over to the Black River Bridge – crews are widening it to four-lane and they’re replacing the two bridges over Black River.

“There’s a little cook, or jog, in the road to build up the roads and connect and they haven’t got it marked well – at all,” Clark said. “They put down those temporary signs but there’s just not enough of them. They’ve left some shoulders there and if you do miss them, it’s too late and you’re going to roll or run into somebody.”

Clark said Friday to NEA Report if work wasn’t going to be continued for several more months, the crews should put better striping down so drivers can better follow the curves. Clark added on Thursday, he witnessed an accident on the highway.

“I didn’t catch the details of it but there was a couple of vehicles there and I sat there 15, 20 minutes waiting for them to clear it out right there before you get on the first little bridge,” Clark said. “I saw a person on a gurney and another person injured as I went back.”

A nearby resident, Dani, posted on Facebook she could not tell where anyone is supposed to be at the spot of the wreck. She said she could only imagine how bad it would be at night.

“My husband goes through there everyday and he says he has no clue what they are doing because it make no sense you can’t tell where you’re even supposed to be on the road in some spots,” Dani wrote.

Some residents dread driving to the area because of the work, like Chellen Cook of Walnut Ridge.

“I hate driving to Black Rock because of how bad it is,” Cook wrote on Facebook. “I avoid that highway as much as possible.”

Clark said more orange cones need to be present to guide drivers and there needs to be striping done until the work is complete. Until then, he hoped making residents more cautious and aware of the unexpected change in the road would prevent more accidents like Thursday’s.

“The highway department should be telling the contractors to put better markings out there or to do it themselves,” Clark said.

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