A ribbon cutting and bridge dedication for the newly constructed section of Arkansas 162 in Alma is set for Tuesday at 11 a.m.
The event is meant to celebrate the upcoming opening of the $9.5 million Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department road project and dedicate the bridge overpass in honor of the late Marsha Woolly, a long-time councilwoman and educator in Alma.
Alma Mayor Keith Greene said the ribbon cutting will be at the intersection of East Main and Henry streets. Parking for the event will be at the Alma High School and the Boys and Girls Club of the Alma Area, he said.
Those attending, including local and state government officials, representatives from the AHTD, and friends and family of Woolly, will gather on the newly constructed street just north of the intersection, Greene said.
Once the road opens, which is expected to happen in the next several weeks, it will be a boon for the traffic and safety issues of the city, Greene said.
“It’s going to be a great benefit to the traffic flow in Alma, but not only that,” Greene said. “It’s going to be the first time in 145 years that the traffic moving north and south in Alma won’t have to wait for the train.”
This new section of Arkansas 162 stretches over train tracks that run through the center of the city and directly between school campuses. It will allow for safer passage of school buses that before had to cross the tracks several times a day.
A portion of the new road that connects Henry Street to Mountain Grove Road will be named Marsha Woolly Drive.
Woolly was considered a dedicated public servant to the city before she died and worked with her husband David Woolly and the late Charles Dyer to have the new section of highway built in the city because of those safety concerns.
Alma City Council members unanimously passed the measure to name the road after Marsha Woolly during a regular meeting on Oct. 20, 2016.
City Attorney Rinda Baker put forward the measure as one of her last actions before leaving office as a council member.
“Marsha did a lot of work for this council…she worked very hard to get that bypass going…and I think it’s the right thing to do to name it after her after everything she has done with the city and the council to protect our kids by getting this bypass built,” Baker said at the meeting.
Woolly worked her entire 36-year career as an educator in the Alma School District and was an avid civic leader who often served in leadership positions. She was a member of the Alma City Council for more than 20 years until her death from cancer in September 2012.
Once Arkansas 162 is complete, the old highway - which runs from U.S. Route 64 to Fayetteville Avenue down to Main Street and east to the new section of highway - will be turned over to the city to become part of Alma’s downtown streetscaping project.
Greene said the opening of the new highway and the downtown project are all part of the “connectivity” of the city currently in the works that includes street improvements, sidewalks and a possible trail system.
“This is just the beginning; this is just a piece of the puzzle,” Greene said.