The city of Jonesboro has been awarded a $2.335 million federal grant for a rail spur that will increase capacity for delivery and storage to businesses in the Jonesboro Industrial Park and Craighead Technology Park.
The grant includes $2,335,400 from the Federal Rail Administration’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program. The grant requires a $400,000 match from the city and $250,000 from Jonesboro Economic Development Corp., bringing the total budget for the project to $2.985 million.
“This is a great award for us because our industrial park is already congested with railcars,” Mayor Harold Perrin said. “Growth of the industrial park over the years has created congestion. The new rail lines will help alleviate that while serving current businesses and new ones that plan to locate here.”
A study of the industrial park commissioned by Perrin revealed that railcar congestion has created concerns about space and safety. The grant will provide side rails for parallel tracks storage and relocate a switch away from Commerce Drive, which will soon be widened to five lanes by the Arkansas Department of Transportation.
“It helps BNSF be more efficient in servicing rail,” City Traffic Operations Engineer Mark Nichols said. “This will be several thousand feet of new rail.”
Perrin also praised the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce for their “instrumental” help in obtaining the grant. Chamber President and CEO Mark Young called the grant award “great news.
“The projects are part of the rail study commissioned by the Mayor. It provides for side rails for parallel tracks, which will increase the rail capacity at both the Jonesboro Industrial Park and the Craighead Technology Park.”
U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro said this grant ensures Jonesboro’s future as an industrial hub.
“I was happy to assist the mayor’s office by advocating for the grant proposal directly to the Federal Railway Administration,” Crawford said.” The improvements will increase business in the city and make our community safer.”
U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., who also advocated for the grant, called it vital.
“Increasing safety and efficiency of rail traffic is vital, both economically as well as for public safety and convenience,” he said.” With the rapid growth of the region and particularly the Craighead Industrial Park, ensuring that it is equipped with necessary, modern infrastructure is a wise investment that will enhance Jonesboro’s position as an economic hub in the years ahead.”