New project looking to fix traffic, help emergency services

Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 7:01 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A traffic change is coming to a busy railroad crossing in Jonesboro that leaves people stuck for extended periods of time throughout the day.

According to city officials, the Gee Street railroad crossing sees about 6,000 cars each day, so when the train comes through, it causes major backups.

That is why some city leaders plan to submit an application for an $8,000,000 federal grant to build an overpass.

They say those backups really affect first responders, including police and fire.

Jonesboro Fire Chief Marty Hamrick explained every time they have to respond on that this side of town, they do not know what to expect.

“We don’t know all the time until we get to the tracks that there is actually a train sitting there, so we have to reroute and hope to get to Main Street and get around that obstacle,” he said.

Hamrick said that delay can add as much as ten minutes to their response time. In some cases, that could be the difference in saving a life.

Hamrick said an overpass would really change how they can respond, allowing them to take different routes.

“If it does go through, it just gives us another route to get across the railroad tracks. At that side of town currently, the only overpass is at the Main Street,” he said.

For average citizens like Christina Comen, a 10-minute delay can be frustrating. Instead of waiting, she has found several ways around the tracks.

“It’s quite frustrating because if there is another train on the other track on Johnson, then I have to go all the way around to the interstate,” she said. “All that just to come right here where it’s usually a mile down the road, and it turns into like seven miles.”

If the city receives the grant, it will take around two to three years to have the overpass up and functional.