ASU Rail Overpass Right On Track

March 18, 2005 – Posted at 4:58 p.m. CST

JONESBORO -- A project to build a rail overpass connecting Jonesboro to ASU is right on track. The ASU overpass would straddle 3 railroad tracks, on the south side of campus, and students and resident of Jonesboro are hoping the crossing guards will come up permanently soon.

It's not always this easy to get across the tracks at ASU. Trains pass by constantly during the day, bringing traffic to a halt. Precisely the reason ASU administrators are pushing lawmakers to fund a multi million-dollar overpass.

"Now that a major portion of the money is about to flow we're getting very, very close to actually constructing to project," said ASU Vice President of Finance and Administration Jennus Burton.

That money is flowing from several sources but this last chunk is hopefully coming from the feds, if Congress agrees to keep the project in the Federal Transportation Bill. The House has already given the bill a green light.

"It's included in that bill," said Burton, "We're fortunate enough to get a $9 million dollar direct appropriation for the overpass project."

Now it's up to Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor to get the money out of the senate.

"With their help and their staffs help I'm very optimistic that we'll probably get this project done," said Burton.

University officials will know if the money is coming their way by September.

"If the $9 million flows that gives us basically a little short fall of about $2.2 million to get the full project which runs about $16.7 million dollars," said Burton.

The $2.2 million dollar funding gap could be made up with city and state funds. If everything goes as planed construction will begin within the next 12-18 months. Construction of the overpass would take two to three years. ASU officials estimate some 20,000 cars would travel the bridge every day.