Ambulance services need overpass at Highland Drive

Ambulance services need overpass at Highland Drive
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

An overpass at the tracks at Highland and Nettleton has been needed for decades. 

On Tuesday, Jan. 6, Jonesboro city leaders will discuss spending $1.5 million dollars on part of that project. 

The money will fund the engineering design, environmental documentation, and right-of-way and utility documents.

Although it is just one of the first steps in the project, ambulance services in the area are glad the ball is rolling.

Around 4:30 Monday afternoon, an ambulance with lights and sirens blaring, blazed through the intersection of Highland Drive and Nettleton Avenue. 

For emergency responders, being able to help someone in need as soon as possible is ideal.

However, it's not often that an ambulance is able to get through that intersection so easily.

On any given day at random times of the day, 34 Burlington Northern Santa Fe trains travel along those tracks.

While they often blow through, only stopping traffic for roughly five minutes, that's not always the case.

The City of Jonesboro has documented incidents where the train comes to a complete stop for extended periods of time.

In 2013, traffic stopped for 53 minutes because of the train. Among those waiting for trains to move were ambulances.

"If we're having to respond east of the railroad tracks, there's times we have to wait and wait and wait or either go all the way out to the bypass, come down to Commerce and back around to get around that way," Tim Brickell told Region 8 News.

Brickell, Medic One Ambulance Director of Operations, said the overpass would undoubtedly save lives.

"That 30 minute delay or that 15 minute delay or even a five minute delay can mean life and death in some people," Brickell said.

Medic One recently opened a new station on Highland Drive and Bryan Street just east of the tracks.

The new overpass could affect their new location, depending on where it goes.

Consultants will soon look at route options. Some routes, going north, would affect more homes. Other routes, going south, would affect more businesses like Medic One.

"That comes right across the end of our property," Brickell said pointing to a potential route map. "If they go this way, we won't be affected by it," he explained, pointing to the route going north.

Regardless of what option is best suited for the area, Brickell said they are for it. They've even given the city easement for a portion of their land if needed.

"It's not gonna be detrimental to our operation or anything," he said. "The ball has started rolling with this now and it's been needed to have been done for a long, long time."

Of the $1.5 million dollars the project would cost, the city would only pay 20% or $300,000.

The remainder of those funds come from the federally funded TIGER grant that the city was awarded last year.

The Jonesboro Public Works Council Committee meets Tuesday at 5 p.m. The city council meeting will start at 5:30 p.m.

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