JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - With growth comes growing pains. Population has steadily increased in Jonesboro for many years but so has traffic.
"We are constantly looking for ways to improve safety and improve efficiency," Mark Nichols told Region 8 News.
Nichols serves as Jonesboro's Traffic Operations Engineer. He said for 2015, there are major projects that the city is looking at getting started on like the overpass on Highland Drive.
"This is in the top 50 as far as dangerous crossings in the state out of 2,500 crossings," Nichols said.
Nichols said that statistic makes the project attractive to groups like the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department but there's a major roadblock.
"We're not short on needs in the city of Jonesboro," Nichols said. "We are short on funding."
Though they hope to be able to partner with the Highway Department and railroad for funding on the project, Mayor Harold Perrin said the city wants to start partnering with residents on these projects as well but in a different aspect.
"We very much value the input from our citizens. So we want them to look at what we've done, the engineering department on all these intersections, the Eastern bypass,et cetera and then let them rank which ones they think is their priority," Perrin said.
"Once we get all of that done, then we'll go back and we'll start putting a figure together of what all that would cost. Then, we'll go back to the citizens and talk to them about how we think we can pay for it."
Regardless of which projects are pegged by citizens as most important, Nichols noted that big projects like that Highland Drive overpass don't happen overnight.
"New roads or widening roads, those are projects that take years to do," Nichols said. "It's in the two or three year process."
Until then, they'll continue to work on smaller projects like signalization and right hand turn lanes to make traffic run smoother.
Earlier this year, the city received a $1.2 million grant for the Highland Drive overpass. That grant funds an environmental study and design for the overpass. Nichols said they will soon seek a consultant through the Highway Department to get that work done.