Plans for Marion overpass being finalized

Plans for Marion overpass being finalized

New roadway will connect communities north of railroad

news@theeveningtimes.com

For years neighborhoods north of the railroad tracks in Marion have been isolated from the rest of the city, thanks in large part to a lack of access, especially when the occasional long, slow train, or even a stalled train has choked off one or even all of the limited crossings.

For nearly as long, residents have clamored for an overpass to fix the issue.

Whether it was better access for emergency vehicles, improvements to traffic flow at choke points or simple convenience, the need for an overpass has been ongoing for more than the better part of two decades.

Now, that need is being addressed. After being onthen- off-then-back-on, the West Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization approved plans to put the overpass on the front burner, and with funding from a millage passed by Marion voters in 2016, the $12 million project is getting closer to a start date., Plans are nearly complete, and construction is tenta- tively slated to begin later this year. Once completed, the overpass will serve as an access bridge over the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe rail line. The road will be built behind the Walmart Neighborhood Center as an extension of LH Polk Drive on the east end and connect on the other side of the tracks to Mound City Road.

The overpass would serve to provide relief with a way around for motorists facing trains blocking intersections near the court house and open access to both sides of the city for emergency responders.

MPO Study Director Eddie Brawley updated citizens.

“Planning is in the final stages” said Brawley.

“They’ll plan on getting that started this year.”

One point of concern that has been on the minds of residents and officials as the planning has progressed is the dangerous intersection at LH Polk and Highway 77, with calls for a traffic signal at that spot, the site of numerous crashes since the Walmart opened in 2016.

So far, no plans for a traffic light are in the works, something that Brawley isn’t happy about.

“The Arkansas Department of Transportation has

not approved a signal there,” noted Brawley.

“They decided to wait and see what the volumes are there and then decide on a signal there or not. I personally wouldn’t have opened it up without a signal, but that is my understanding of the Highway Department right now.”

The project calls for a short extension of LH Polk to the east before a sharp turn north. At that point the overpass will carry across the railroad and connect with a stretch of Mound City Road on the south side

of the road.

By the Evening Times News Staff

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