ELDORADO -- Eldorado Mayor Rocky James joined members of the Eldorado community along with Ferrell Hospital representatives and state Sen. Dale Fowler to announce plans to improve and widen Benton Street near the hospital.
"I want to thank God first," James said. "We did a lot of praying for this project."
James also thanked city council members for supporting the project and Fowler, who helped secure funding for the project.
Grant funding will be used to reconstruct and widen the roadway along Benton Street and will include new curb and gutters, a new storm sewer system, drainage structures, inlets and ADA-compliant sidewalks from First Street to Organ Street, according to Fowler.
The expansion of Benton Street is a much-needed improvement to the area immediately adjacent to the hospital. The street was fairly narrow along the hospital before Ferrell Hospital undertook its massive expansion project. With the main entrance located alongside Benton Street, safety is a top concern for the hospital and the city.
Fowler, in making remarks about the project, praised James for his tenacity in making the importance of the project a priority.
"I don't think a day went by that Rocky didn't call me," Fowler said. "His commitment to improving the city of Eldorado is unmatched."
Eldorado Unit 4 School Superintendent Ryan Hobbs also spoke briefly, commenting on how widening the road will be a matter of both safety and cost-savings to the school. Each year, he said. the district loses multiple mirrors on school buses because sometimes bus drivers are forced to the far edge of the street in a tight traffic situation and clip mirrors off when utility poles are contacted.
Engineer Mike Roberts, who learned to drive under the instruction of former Eldorado driver's ed instructor and coach Fred Harris, said he will be developing the plans for the overhaul of the street.
Ferrell Hospital CEO Alisa Coleman also spoke, thanking the city and Fowler for their work to make sure Benton Street will be improved.