Jonesboro leaders meet to discuss transportation needs for city - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro leaders meet to discuss transportation needs for city

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Jonesboro Area Transportation Study and the Metropolitan Planning Organization held a meeting on Tuesday, to discuss a number of different issues.

"We went over several things in today's meeting," Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said. "We talked about our plan. Our one year, five year and twenty year plan. I've been visiting with the Arkansas Highway Department in Little Rock and I think it would be good if our MPO, and I'd be happy to make that presentation to the highway commissions, let them know what our plans are, the type of funding we're going to need and how we're going to have to need their assistance, particularly, on the monetary level."

Muhammad Amin Ulkarim, Transportation Planning Director, says they will soon be conducting a transportation study in the hopes of relieving congestion of some of the areas busiest roads. "For instance, Stadium is very congested. Stadium is used by local people and regional people who are traveling through Jonesboro. So, we want to determine what's the proportion of those people who stay here or just pass through."

They also discussed things happening at the National level that may affect the Region 8 area. "The other thing we talked about is what on the National level is occurring and how it will affect our MPO," Perrin said. "Some of the Congressman have discussed they may want to reduce the MPOs in the United States rather than increase the funding to those. And so, we've contacted all of our U.S. Senators and Congressman and it's my understanding they're all in support of us having an MPO in this area. We do a great deal of planning and that's what I think we can do for these other communities, as well. That's why I'm saying I'm going to watch that bill very closely and see which ones pass. And if we do our "fly in" in March, I've got meetings set up with the Federal Transportation Chairman to talk about those issues."

Perrin says if this bill is passed, it could mean a couple of things for the city of Jonesboro. "It can mean a reduction in what we're getting funded now if we stay the same," Perrin said. "If we enlarge then the question would be can we increase our funding in order to take care of that because we're be bringing more partners in. Obviously they have more needs which mean we'll need more staff and so that's something we need to analyze and take a look at."

Perrin says there's no question that the MPO in our area plays a vital role in the city's success.

He says he plans to keep an eye on this bill and work with local, state and national leaders on these issues.

"We'll have to look at things very closely," Perrin said. "Because obviously Jonesboro will have to pick up that slack of the money there because we can't stop planning. And so, right now the way it's funded is good but if the city of Jonesboro had to pick up and some of the other cities their share we'd have to sit down and really analyze that and if we vote to do that then that would mean we'd be taking money out of another area of our budgets to continue planning."

Perrin says he hopes to see the MPO expand to include additional Region 8 cities.

"My goal has always been to broaden out our MPO in to other cities," Perrin said. "So it can assist them in their planning and stuff because we're so close together that I think it would be a good idea. And some of those cities possibly don't have a planner on staff and MPO like we do here. So, I think it could be a win-win. So, I'm meeting with the highway department to see how we want to enlarge that and what steps we want to take."

Perrin says he's also going to be meeting with representatives with the highway department.

"I'm going to meet with the highway department," Perrin said. "I've written a letter and I'm gonna ask them, you know, I'd like to sit down with them and just get their thoughts if I'm on the right track of trying to enlarge the MPO and if so how does that affect our funding. And also, the census will be coming out in about thirty days on information in these areas that will affect our funding. The funding is based on census. So, that's what we've got to look at."

Ulkarim says the public is invited to attend any of their meetings.

For additional information about the Metropolitan Planning Organization, log onto this website.

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