Jonesboro leaders meet to discuss transportation needs for city

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

"Wewent over several things in today's meeting," Jonesboro Mayor HaroldPerrin said. "We talked about our plan. Our one year, five year and twentyyear plan. I've been visiting with the Arkansas Highway Department in LittleRock and I think it would be good if our MPO, and I'd be happy to make thatpresentation to the highway commissions, let them know what our plans are, thetype of funding we're going to need and how we're going to have to need theirassistance, particularly, on the monetary level."

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

Theyalso discussed things happening at the National level that may affect theRegion 8 area. "The other thing we talked about is what on the Nationallevel is occurring and how it will affect our MPO," Perrin said."Some of the Congressman have discussed they may want to reduce the MPOsin the United States rather than increase the funding to those. And so, we'vecontacted all of our U.S. Senators and Congressman and it's my understandingthey're all in support of us having an MPO in this area. We do a great deal ofplanning and that's what I think we can do for these other communities, aswell. That's why I'm saying I'm going to watch that bill very closely and seewhich ones pass. And if we do our "fly in" in March, I've gotmeetings set up with the Federal Transportation Chairman to talk about thoseissues."

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

Perrinsays there's no question that the MPO in our area plays a vital role in thecity's success.

Hesays he plans to keep an eye on this bill and work with local, state andnational leaders on these issues.

"We'llhave to look at things very closely," Perrin said. "Because obviouslyJonesboro will have to pick up that slack of the money there because we can'tstop planning. And so, right now the way it's funded is good but if the city ofJonesboro had to pick up and some of the other cities their share we'd have tosit down and really analyze that and if we vote to do that then that would meanwe'd be taking money out of another area of our budgets to continueplanning."

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

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

Perrinsays he's also going to be meeting with representatives with the highwaydepartment.

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

Ulkarimsays the public is invited to attend any of their meetings.

Foradditional information about the Metropolitan Planning Organization, log ontothis website.

Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved.