Hayes Ranch not under consideration for Phase II of Pea Ridge Connector Road

Posted on April 25, 2024 by Romi White

The route for the proposed extension of the Pea Ridge Connector to connect to Berryhill Road remains undetermined. 

Santa Rosa County officials today cleared up confusion and misinformation spread via social media about the proposed future extension of the Pea Ridge Connector, which currently provides a north-south connection from U.S. 90 in Pea Ridge to Hamilton Bridge Road. 

In an effort to reduce traffic congestion on U.S. 90 between Milton and Pace, county leaders want to further extend the Connector to Berryhill Road and eventually Willard Norris Road.

Toward that end, Robbie Turner, who owns 15.5 acres on Berryhill Road, offered the county a land exchange to provide a northern terminus for Phase II.

During Monday’s board meeting, commissioners discussed scheduling a public hearing to consider Turner’s offer of a 120-foot wide roughly three-acre portion of a 15.5-acre parcel for Phase II, which would provide a northern terminus on Berryhill Road (green-shaded parcel in grapic above). Turner is willing to accept a 0.76-acre land swap plus $150,000 dollars. 

But the matter went off the rails after a sketch drafted two years ago by a Volkert engineer, who had aimed to help county engineering staff consider the feasibility of various possible future extensions of the Connector, was released to the public.

County Engineer Rebecca Jones provided the map Monday when asked by a citizen for documents related to the Connector project. “I have never shared that map with any of the commissioners,” said Jones. 









A conceptual map shared via social media was incorrectly referred to as a “proposed plan” for the future extention of the Pea Ridge Connector Road. 

“This whole thing has turned into a big mess over something that was conceptual,” said retiring County Administrator DeVann Cook, who said the map showed some “potential routes looked at by staff.” Cook stressed there was “no plan” to construct the future Phase II through Hayes Ranch. He also reaffirmed county commissioners had not been privy to the map and that it’s not known at this time if there is funding available for future extensions of the Connector.

Incoming County Administrator Brad Baker said there are “many steps” taken when working on capital projects like the Connector Road. Baker explained the map was for preliminary planning purposes only and a similar process had been used when developing potential routes for the future Navarre access road. Baker said he understood the “sensivity” of residents who showed up to speak out against extending the connector.

“I understand from listening today that it might not go through our property,” said Jill Hayes Miller, who lives and works at Hayes Ranch. She went on to say she doesn’t believe extending the connector is needed. “Y’all aren’t gonna do it because we’re not going to let you.”

“Leave our area alone, please,” said Charlene Taylor, a resident of Baker Road. 

“We are not working to take anybody’s homes,” said Commission Chairman Sam Parker, who noted that around 30,000 vehicles per week utilize the Pea Ridge Connector Road. He said the completed first phase has improved first responder times by seven minutes, according to the Pace Fire-Rescue Chief.

Parker also said the “exploratory process” for considering future routes, such as those depicted on the conceptual map, might determine those routes are not feasible, but he’s still “fully committed” to figuring out a way to address traffic congestion, citing a recent county budget survey that showed that’s the top concern for local citizens.

UPDATE: The board decided to move forward with the Turner land acquistion with the intent to use it for drainage instead of as the northern terminus for Phase II.