JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Work on a new railroad overpass could cause traffic tie-ups and headaches for those whose travels take them down Highland Drive.
Beginning Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 10 a.m., Arkansas Department of Transportation (ArDOT) crews will close Highway 18 (Highland Drive) at Nettleton Avenue.
The closure, according to an ArDOT news release Friday, will allow workers to begin construction of a new railroad overpass.
ArDOT District 10 Engineer Brad Smithee says this project has been in the works for “quite some time” now and while he expects heavy traffic for the first few days of the construction, he believes this project will eliminate the train delays drivers often face at this intersection.
“The concept of this project all along was ‘what can we do to eliminate those train delays, [and] increase the traffic flow on 18,’” Smithee said. “This is all a part of that, so we’ve been working for quite some time to get to this milestone.”
Those traveling eastbound will drive on the recently completed Watt Street bridge, opening Monday, to Highway 463, and those driving westbound will take Cain Street to Nettleton Avenue.
“We didn’t find a really good way to be able to build the [Nettleton and Highland] bridge without getting down to two lanes of traffic crossing the tracks at one time,” Smithee said. “We’re going to be two lanes of traffic in this detour, but it’ll be with a bridge, so train delays with two lanes of traffic, we felt, was going to be too intrusive to traffic. By building [the Watt Street] bridge and by having basically constant flow of traffic without train delays, we believe that the two-lane traffic will be tolerable.”
Smithee says the traffic being separated in each direction gives the crew more room to build the western end of the bridge, and he expects traffic in the area to normalize as time goes on.
The completion date for the project is estimated to be Feb. 2022.
Smithee encourages everyone to be patient with the crew as they are working in “all corners of Jonesboro.”
Motorists should expect delays and use caution when approaching and traveling through the work zone.