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Special Presentation shares insight on the City of Jonesboro’s Connectivity Project

The Jonesboro City Council heard updates on the millions of dollars worth of projects from the Connectivity Advisory Committee during Tuesday night's regular meeting.

The Connectivity Advisory Committee was reformed in Fall 2023 to “help compile research and prioritize cycle and pedestrian connectivity routes throughout the City of Jonesboro” according to the executive summary turned in to the City Council.

Dr. Andy Shatley with the committee, gave the special presentation.

Shatley said connection projects were ranked based on a formula to determine their importance in the city. According to the executive summary, the formula to rank importance combines the following: "distance of connection, number of closely approximated address points, the potential for alternative funding, milestone connections such as parks or retail destinations, projected cost, and connections with other systems."

“This is a group that has engaged themselves in a process that is very important to our community. They have a passion. This is providing a “quality-of-life” initiative that we continue to move forward on,” Mayor Harold Copenhaver said about the committee at Tuesday's meeting.

Shatley presented the connections in order of priority during the meeting. The Downtown to ASU "corridor" sits at the top of the 15-path list. The ASU trail is projected to cost $2.2 million and is fully funded. The path is currently under construction.

“This is at the top of the list because it connects thousands of students to our downtown. That’s a big deal.” Shatley said.

The corridor is along a 2.5-mile stretch. The trial is projected to be finished this year.

The RAISE Grant connections are next on the connection priority list. Shatley said it's still on the list because funding is still pending. The city applied to receive federal funding earlier this year. The RAISE Grant selected routes listed are projected to cost $17.5 million.

Aggie Road is in the planning stages to have a sidewalk from the Farmers Market to the University Heights School that is already partially funded. The project is a projected $1.65 million.

Another connectivity project on Aggie is to extend to a new proposed park which would be covered with part of the RAISE Grant if received. It is projected to cost $4.53 million.

The next path listed in spot five was the Culberhouse Shared Use Path. The path is partially funded and projected to cost $2.45 million.

“We feel like this is the spine to the West End. It’s the best way we can touch a lot of houses, we can touch libraries and touch schools. There’s a lot of public local facilities that happen in this region,” Shatley said.

It is also in the area where the new dog park will be built. The “Bark Park” will be located near Jonesboro High School close to Highland Drive and Clubhouse Road.

Shatley said a goal of the project is to get more infrastructure for pedestrians on the West Side of Jonesboro. A segment made it on the list to connect downtown to Joe Mack Campbell Park. This trial is not funded and is projected to cost the city $3.36 million.

“We talked about taking something downtown to Joe Mack Campbell Park but there's a couple of hurdles there. There’s getting over the overpass, ditches. Also, a time frame. We think we can get this far in a couple of years as opposed to downtown Joe Mack Park. That could take us a while,” Shatley said.

Another path being looked at is the Johnson shared use path which will connect Caraway to the Newman Center. It is currently not funded and is projected to cost $895 thousand. Shatley said it is an area that doesn't have sidewalks but shows signs of it being used commonly as a path.

“This is specifically one that is pretty obvious when you go out there and see that. The thought is to get that Caraway Road connected to Greensboro Village,” Shatley said.

The next on the list is the Marion Berry Overpass connection which is the final piece connecting Arkansas State University to the downtown area.

‘There’s a lot of funding conversions that have happened. They're kind of up in the air right now. There's a lot of moving parts. If we get a RAISE Grant totally changes, if we get one of the TAP grants totally changes. It all depends on how this all plays out for funding.” Shatley said.

Shatley said the completed project map is how he wants Jonesboro to look.

“We are so far behind. That’s no fault to the administration here, we all know that 20 or 30 years have gone by and very little has been done for active infrastructure. That’s why we are here, it’s our passion,” Shatley said.

Councilmembers spoke in support of the projects but hoped that they would be finished.

“I would ask that we keep the momentum going on this rather than pushing pause,” Councilman Chris Gibson said. “I think there is some low-hanging fruit we can take care of pretty immediately.”

Other paths on the list include Culberhouse to Highland Drive, connection along South Culberhouse, Soft Trail System (next phase), HWY 351 Shared Use Path, South Caraway RD Bike Path, Johnson to Parker Park Side Path (Main Street), and Higginbottom Creek Soft Trail.

A 2019 graduate of Sheridan High School, Robinson graduated from A-State with a degree in multimedia journalism in December 2023. In January 2021, while working toward her degree, she was named sports editor for The Herald, A-State’s student-run newspaper.