JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The City of Jonesboro is getting a grant worth over $2 million.
U.S. Senators John Boozman, Tom Cotton, and Congressman Rick Crawford announced on Monday that a federal grant worth $2,335,4000 will go toward the Jonesboro Industrial Lead Project.
A study of the industrial park commissioned by Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin revealed that railcar congestion has created concerns about both space and safety.
The grant will provide side rails for parallel tracks storage and relocate a switch away from Commerce Drive, which will soon be widened to five lanes by the Arkansas Department of Transportation.
“This is a great award for us because our industrial park is already congested with railcars,” Mayor Perrin said. “Growth of the industrial park over the years has created congestion. The new rail lines will help alleviate that while serving current businesses and new ones that plan to locate here.”
"Increasing safety and efficiency of rail traffic is vital, both economically as well as for public safety and convenience,” Boozman said. “With the rapid growth of the region and particularly the Craighead Industrial Park, ensuring that it is equipped with necessary, modern infrastructure is a wise investment that will enhance Jonesboro's position as an economic hub in the years ahead."
"Jonesboro's future is bright, but continued growth will depend on capable and well-maintained infrastructure,” Cotton said. “I appreciate the U.S. Department of Transportation being a reliable partner in building Arkansas's future, as this investment will ensure that Jonesboro's rail infrastructure is equipped to take advantage of the city's impressive opportunities."
"This CRISI grant will ensure that Jonesboro remains a hub of industry,” Crawford said. “I was happy to assist the Mayor's office by advocating for the grant proposal directly to the Federal Railway Administration, and am pleased to see that the city was awarded the full requested amount of $2,335,400.00. The improvements made to the industrial lead will increase business in the city and make our community safer."
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said projects such as this serve business stability as well as safety for all involved, including motorists on streets and highways.
“These investments in intercity passenger and freight rail will benefit surrounding communities, make grade crossings safer and improve service reliability,” Chao said.
“It helps BNSF be more efficient in servicing rail,” City Traffic Operations Engineer Mark Nichols said. “This will be several thousand feet of new rail.”
The project is being funded through the Federal Rail Administration’s Consolidation Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program.
It will improve rail safety, efficiency, while also decreasing congestion at Commerce Drive point.
It averages 9,400 vehicles a day with 20% being truck traffic.
The current average delay is around 45 minutes, which this project could reduce to only 5 minutes.
The City of Jonesboro estimates it will experience a 60% increase in railcar volume within the next five years.
Local industries and the city have dedicated 22% non-federal funding match for this project.