Funding for ASU Overpass Almost Secure

OCTOBER 25, 2006 -- POSTED AT 9:00 P.M. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- Arkansas State is the closest they've been yet to securing all the funding needed for the long awaited railroad overpass. For years, they've been an inconvenience for the students and anyone else trying to go to and from the university.

"A lot of times it will cause me to be late for work because I will leave 15 minutes in advance thinking I will get there on time, then I will end up being late because of the train," says Keitra Murphy," an ASU student.

And not only can you get stopped by one set of tracks, but you can get stopped by two trains, leaving you no choice but to wait.

"It could be 3 minutes, it could be 10 minutes. You just never know. They don't go, they go so slow that you really can't tell how much longer it's going to take," says Kym Guthrie, another ASU student.

Even ASU's Vice President of Finance Jennus Burton who's been pushing for the overpass for years says he experiences the delay daily.

"It's a very eerie feeling to be on Caraway Road and see a train in front of you and a train in your rearview mirror and knowing you have no where to go until either one of them clears," says Burton.

But he has good news. The funding for the overpass across the tracks is almost there. They currently have secured 85 percent and only 15 percent remains before ground can be broken.

"The senate has placed an additional two million dollars into an appropriation request so that we could take the full funding for the project up to about 18 to 18 and a half million," says Burton.

Over the last 5 years, Arkansas Congressmen have funded 15.2 million, the City of Jonesboro donated a million dollars to the project, and now, they are just waiting on that last 2 million before work can begin.

"If that 2 million is approved, we've got 100 percent of funding in place and that could happen any day," says Burton.

And once the construction begins, when will it all be completed?

"Once we actually start turning dirt for the bridges and the roadway, it will be about a 24 to 28 month construction project, two to maybe two and a half years," says Burton.

There's still a long road ahead, but the start of construction could begin as soon as this spring.

Furthermore, the overpass will not connect Caraway Road to the south entrance of the campus. Instead the overpass will be built where Matthews and Washington Avenue spilt and will enter campus on the west side of ASU.