Jonesboro will be receiving more than $2 million in funding to expand its rail capacity.
City leaders announced that the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and the U.S. Economic Development Administration have earmarked roughly $2.5 million to build four dead-end tracks. The DRA has promised a $509,000 investment, and the U.S. Economic Development Administration has promised $2 million.
According to the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce website, two railway companies provide service in the area. These companies are BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroads. Two intermodal facilities are in the region – one in Marion and one in Memphis.
Mayor Harold Perrin said the grants will enable future economic expansion and provide increased safety on Jonesboro’s roadways. The additional rail space, he said, will reduce the traffic log-jams on MLK Jr. Drive.
Jonesboro has been noted for several dangerous train crossings. The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department rated the Arkansas 351/BNSF train crossing and the Arkansas 226/Union Pacific train crossing as no. 7 and no. 6 in the top 10 most dangerous train crossings in the state.
“It’s a great day in Jonesboro, because this is extremely important to existing industry and future development that will locate here,” Perrin said in a statement. “These are unusually generous grants, and we have a lot of people to thank.”
In Arkansas, there are more than 2,667 miles of railroad track, based on figures from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Three Class I rail systems – Union Pacific, BNSF and Kansas City Southern Railway – operate in Arkansas with 22 smaller companies also operating in the state.