Jonesboro hopes to build a path between Arkansas State University and downtown

by George Jared (gjared@talkbusiness.net) 104 views 

Several parts of northern Jonesboro suffer from economic blight as the city’s downtown needs to be more accessible to students from Arkansas State University.

The Jonesboro City Council will consider a resolution Tuesday night to submit an application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a grant to build a walking/biking trail from Riceland Foods to the ASU campus. The $200,000 grant will be used to pay for environmental studies, cost projections, and other preliminary aspects of the proposed trail, Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin told Talk Business & Politics.

“It’s really going to be a huge project … it will help to revitalize our downtown,” he said. “It will also help to revitalize those blighted areas on either side of the trail.”

It will cost millions of dollars to complete the project, and it will likely take years to finish, the mayor said. The exact length of the trail, cost, timelines, and other specific information will not be known until the studies are finished, Perrin said.

The trail, referred to as the FY2017 Brownsfield Area Wide Planning Grant in the resolution, will follow an old rail line corridor between the rice business, and the college. Old or blighted structures along the trail could be rebuilt or repurposed, according to the grant.

Traffic along the route will spur tourism, and other economic activities, Perrin said. He likened it to the transformation along U.S. 49 when the new NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital opened about two years ago. Businesses and land developers flocked on both sides of the highway after the hospital was built, and it spurred real estate investment in the area, he said.

A consultant will be hired using the grant money if it’s approved. When the city might be approved for the grant if aldermen move forward with the resolution, was not released.

Other items the council will consider Tuesday:
• An ordinance to spend $1.6 million on drainage improvements. Massive flooding in the spring significantly damaged many of the city’s drainage systems;

• MPO Director Erica Tait will give the council a presentation about the city’s sidewalk program;

• Tim Wooldridge will deliver an update on the Crowley’s Ridge Development Council;

• An ordinance to buy property on Arkansas 1 for the purpose of erecting a city welcome sign;

• A rezoning ordinance for property located at 2100 Johnson and 108 and 110 Snyder; and

• An ordinance to add a second traffic signal technician to the engineering department.

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