What's the Future for Interchanges along U.S. Highway 63?

JONESBORO, AR-- Anyone who drives along U.S. Highway 63 in Jonesboro knows the problems of getting on and off the bypass.  City officials say change needs to happen, but it will likely come with a big price tag.

"It's just really hard to get on and off of everything.  Traffic really backs up.  It backs up onto caraway," said Lynda Medlock.

The study includes the main interchanges along U.S. 63 in Jonesboro.  Jonesboro Mayor Doug Formon said they just don't know the best way to do it.  To help, they recently had a study done to get some options.

"The study was done so the highway department could come back and give us some ideas.  Probably some short term ideas that may be out there and also what the long term solutions might be and to give us some sort of dollar figures," said Formon.

Once the highway department finishes with its study it will send it to the city's Metropolitan Planning Organization, the city will then try to find a way to pay for it.

"It's going to come down to money.  Some of the short term fixes that could last only three to five years may cost $2,000,000 to $3,000,000 per intersection," said Formon.

Formon said the long term solution could be as much as $200,000,000 and if the funding isn't there, there's not much that can be done.  Money is not the only problem, there's also not enough room.

"Down by NEA Baptist Hospital you'd have to take out the hospital to put the loops in there.  When you get down to Caraway and Stadium, those roads are so close together it makes it impossible to put loops in," said Formon.

Because of some of the traffic problems, many drivers avoid U.S. 63 all together.  Of all the interchanges along 63, Formon the best one is the newly improved Washington overpass.   The study looked at what the intersections would be like in twenty years.  $2,000,000 is the tentative figure for now and with each year that goes by, that could increase by as much as 13%.