Jonesboro City Council requests federal funding for $15.6 million overpass project

by Michael Wilkey ([email protected]) 154 views 

The Jonesboro City Council on Tuesday (April 19) approved by voice vote a plan to request funding from the Federal Highway Administration to help build a $15.6 million overpass on Patrick Street.

The street is one of several streets that connect downtown to the rest of town, with Main and Union streets being major thoroughfares. Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said the proposed overpass in downtown Jonesboro will open up traffic and help with safety concerns.

The $15.6 million project would connect North and South Patrick Streets to reduce congestion on Main and Union Streets; preserve the overpass at Bridge Street for a pedestrian/bicycle route and close the Fisher Street railroad crossing, officials said Tuesday.

The city will apply for a federal TIGER transportation grant to complete the project, officials said. If the city receives the grant, the grant will be for a 80% federal/20% city share and would cover the cost of construction, engineering, right of way and utilities. City engineer Craig Light said the project was one of about 20 projects last year to receive help when debate over a proposed one cent sales tax began. The tax failed, but the project is still needed, Light said.

Voters defeated the request in November 2015 by a 61-39% margin.

Jonesboro voters reject sales tax increase proposal by a wide margin

If approved, the project would have to be completed within seven years. Light said the overpass would open downtown Jonesboro as well as provide access to three subdivisions under consideration in the area.

The overpass will be a five-lane arterial overpass, with Burlington Northern Santa Fe covering about 5% of the cost of the project according to federal law, Light said. Light said the closure of the Fisher Street railroad crossing would cut down on the number of pedestrian/train accidents that have happened in recent years.

Perrin said the project will be long term in approach. The link will connect Patrick Street, Johnson Avenue and Magnolia Street in the north while connecting Washington Avenue, Matthews Avenue, Nettleton Avenue and Highland Drive in the south.

In other action, the council presented proclamations to the Arkansas State University women’s basketball team as well as two proclamations in honor of the Miracle League.

The basketball team proclamation honored the team for winning the Sun Belt Conference regular season and conference tournaments, going to the women’s NIT tournament as well as having a 25-game home winning streak. The team was joined by head coach Brian Boyer at the meeting.

The Miracle League, a baseball and softball program for children with special needs in Jonesboro, has hosted online bake sales and a recent fundraiser at Weiner. The 4th annual Weiner Pig Roast on April 2 raised $13,180 and has raised more than $80,000 in the previous four years. The league has also received financial support from area companies like Ritter Communications. The company donated more than $100,000 in 2015 to build a video replay board at the field.