Construction, School Traffic Make U.S. 63 Slow

September 9, 2004 – Posted at 2:17 p.m.

JONESBORO -- With schools back in session, traffic is heavier all over Region 8, but in construction zones, it seems to be slower than ever. The construction of the Highway 91 overpass over U.S. 63 has been an inconvenience for many parents in the Westside School district and for the Arkansas State Police.

When you're in a hurry, nothing's worse then being stuck in traffic, and don't you just hate it when other cars try to cut line?

"We've had problems with people disobeying merge signs. We formed two lanes of traffic and everybody trying to get back into one lane at the intersection, which is causing major problems," said Corp. Matt Miller of the Arkansas State Police.

It's bumper-to-bumper traffic every morning for motorists traveling South on U.S. 63. Construction work on the Highway 91 Overpass is causing a lot of rush hour headaches.

Since 1937, Arkansas State Police have been ticketing drivers for failure to obey traffic control devices. In this case, a driver could be ticketed for failing to merge soon enough.

"It's probably ten to one calls to headquarters from motorists thanking us for being out here and making people do right," said Corp. Miller. But it shouldn't be long before the construction is over.

Joe Barnett of the Arkansas Highway Transportation Department said there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

"In about two months we will open the overpass. The construction work by no means will be complete. There will be some temporary connections there that will be constructed between now and then. Then at that point, the existing crossing there where the traffic signal is will be taken out, and then the rest of the work, the rest of the slopes and that work will be completed," said Barnett.

The final project is expected to be done by the middle of next year. "This is one of our higher accident areas for Craighead County. Since we've been back out here, we can look at the statistics to show that accidents have gone down," said Corp. Miller.

"When the project is completed, we believe the traffic will flow much better and it will be much safer," said Barnett.

Arkansas State Police report that since last January, there have been 27 accidents at the intersection. None of which occurred while officers were present.