Marion Overpass at Debate - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Marion, AR--Tiffany Blankenship Reports

Marion Overpass at Debate

April 5, 2005--Posted at 6:30 p.m. CST

MARION-- They say you can't beat a train in Critteneden County, but Marion city officials say they'll try.

A recent study is at debate in the West Memphis-Marion area, and the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department is holding a public meeting tonight to discuss the possibility of building overpasses.

Trains are always in site in Crittenden County which is ok if they're just passing through, but residents says they've become road blocks.

Marion Mayor Frank Fogleman says, "The predictability of when they come through, nobody can predict. It interrupts people trying to go to work, trying to go to school, trying to go to church, trying to get home, ball practice. You name it, there's generally a train there to interrupt."

There are are ten or more trains that run through West Memphis per day, but the bulk of the traffic is in Marion.

Marion Director of Economic Development Kay Brockwell says, "The railroad tracks essentially cut the city in half right through here. We have a large residential area here and the older central portion of the city is here."

And with the large volume of train traffic, it's difficult to get from one place to the other.

That's why city officials have plans for an overpass that would serve as an alternate route.

However, the plan they have in mind has an price tag of $11 million.

"The cost of it and the funding that's available from the state and from local sources is just not enough," Fogleman says.

An even bigger problem arises when trains are stopped within the city or moving slowly along the tracks.

"Right now there are three crossings.There's one right here, here and here. Those crossings are frequently blocked by trains. We have between 40 and 50 trains per day traveling these tracks," Brockwell says.

With all three crossings blocked, it not only makes it inconvenient for through traffic, it also makes it impossible for emergency vehicles to travel from one side to the other.

"Hopefully we won't be in a situation where somebody's property or life isn't in jeopardy because of this," Fogleman says.

As for now, the State Highway Department is still surveying the situation, but for the City of Marion, a solution can't come soon enough.

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