EL DORADO, Ark. (10/18/19) — Residents are vastly divided over a possible partial road closure that would cause drivers to take alternative routes.
Delek Refinery is petitioning to close the approximate two mile portion of the road near United Baptist Church and Friendship Primitive Baptist Church.
According to the El Dorado News-Times, Brian Ratcliff, an attorney representing Delek, proposed the plan during the Union County Quorum Court Meeting on Thursday.
The News-Times reported that Ratcliff said safety standards imposed by the United States Department of Homeland Security in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks can’t be met because of the open road.
Many have expressed concern that if the road isn’t closed, Delek may try to move out of El Dorado, displacing more than 400 workers.
Dean Storey, District 4 Justice of the Peace, said that company is just trying to scare the residents.
“The scare tactics that they are using is something I resent,” Storey said. “They’re saying Homeland Security is requiring this but nobody will provide anything showing that. “
Storey lives on the road about two miles from where the closure would end. He is concerned that first responders will have trouble accessing residents in emergency situations.
Storey referred to another resident that lived down the road from him. That resident also tried to fight this same petition years ago.
“He said if they hadn’t come straight through [Hinson Road] he would have never made it,” Storey said. “He was suffering from a heart attack and time is of the essence on anything like that.”
Storey said it’s about a 2.9 mile detour if drivers take Buchanan Road instead of Hinson.
Supporters of the closure believe it’s not that far of a reroute.
“Buchanan Road is open already,” one resident in the area said. “There’s no reason why instead of going straight passes Buchanan, you couldn’t take a left and pretty much be at the same place about the same time.”
The resident referenced the Lanxess plant and how all of its operations are all one side of the road. Plant drivers are able to load and do other necessary tasks without the worry of outside traffic, unlike Delek.
“It’s a pretty big safety hazard to have all of that traffic flying by the plant with those tankers coming out of there,” he said.
He also believes closing that portion of the road would also decrease the speeding and litter issues he and others have been having.
“People using this route as a cut through are just flying up and down,” he said. “It’s dangerous to the people that live up and down this road.”
“Tell me what roads people don’t exceed the speed limit on,” he said.
County Judge Mike Loftin will make the final decision. He will choose three people to research both sides so that the best solution can be made.
He told NBC that it’s a tough call to make but he’s working to figure out a plan. It will take a few months before there is a decision.