ATHD approves feasibility study for overpass on Highland Drive

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The city is one step closer to easing one of Jonesboro's greatest traffic woes. The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department approved studying Highland and Nettleton to determine whether or not an overpass there is warranted.

"We just can't wait to get this study," Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said. Especially since the city realizes what a problem the intersection of Highland and Nettleton creates for residents.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe runs parallel with Nettleton Avenue and often blocks traffic where it intersects with Highland Drive.

For months, the city kept tabs on how often and how long trains either passed through or actually stopped dead on the tracks. They presented that information to the Highway Commission.

"The video that we showed, showed at least 32 (train) cars daily on that track and that they also block that track for hours at a time," Perrin said.

Mayor Perrin believed that information helped the Highway Commission approve the feasibility study on the proposed overpass.

"I anticipate this study to take about 3-6 months," Perrin said.

After that, ATHD will let the city know if the overpass is in fact needed and present a possible design and estimated costs for the overpass.

Mayor Perrin hopes to split the cost with a few sources.

"We'll have to sit down with the railroad companies, after we know the cost, and say 'okay, are you willing to make a contribution to help pay for this?'"

They'll ask the same thing of the Highway Department.

Though the city will have to pay a margin of the cost, Mayor Perrin explained the money for it is already being collected through the Highway Department Sales Tax that was passed by Arkansas voters last November.

"Depending on what the cost comes back, we could use those funds on projects like this."

As an overpass at Highland is a project the city has been wanting for some time, Perrin said the sooner, the better.

"The longer you wait, the worse off you are...and when you do that, the cost of construction goes up, so what I'm trying to do is get their attention and say hey...we need to do this now."

We'll keep you updated with what information the Highway Department presents following their study.

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