By Curt Yeomans
Jonesboro Mayor Luther Maddox said the city's Streetscape project should be nearly complete by the end of this month. It is still scheduled, he added, to be finished by February, which is when the construction contract for the project is set to expire.
The Streetscape project is designed to beautify the city's downtown area, mainly along Main Street. New sidewalks, street lamps, traffic lights, and crosswalks, are going in as part of the project.
On Friday afternoon, construction crews were putting in the last bricks on a section of sidewalk, in front of businesses on a stretch of Main Street, that lies between Mill Street and Church Street. Several new lamps had already been installed along the Streetscape area stretch.
"We're starting to put the brickwork in, and once we finish that, we'll begin repaving the streets, and once the paving is down, we'll put in the [brick] crosswalks," Maddox said. "As long as we don't have any bad weather, we're hoping we'll be 90 percent finished [with Streetscape] by the end of the month."
But, as the project reaches the home stretch, traffic has begun to back up in the city's downtown area.
On Friday, construction crews were resurfacing the strip of Mill Street, between Main Street and McDonough Street, in front of the city's old train depot. The intersection was closed to vehicle traffic as a result. Vehicles going in both directions on Main Street also had to share the same lane because the other lane was used for equipment, needed to resurface Mill Street.
Traffic on McDonough Street, meanwhile, was backed up for one-third of a mile, from College Street, to Stockbridge Road.
On Friday, a Jonesboro police officer was directing traffic around the construction crews, and their equipment, on Main Street. The officer, Cpl. Adam Bennett, said the city had another police officer out handling traffic in the same spot on Thursday.
Project Engineer, Tommy Newsome, and Jonesboro Police Chief, Franklin Allen, could not be reached for comment, on Friday, about how long the delays are expected to continue.
Based on comments from Maddox, however, people could be experiencing traffic headaches for at least a few more weeks.
"They are starting to mill Main street now," he said. "Milling is where they grind up the road surface, and fill in the areas that needs patches, before the road is re-surfaced. They are milling the lanes, one at a time. I'm hoping they get Main Street done soon, because they are doing McDonough Street after that.
"Then they will put the brick crosswalks in, after they finish repaving the streets," Maddox said. "The brick sidewalks will be put in from Mill Street, to the corner of Church Street. Where you see painted crosswalks now, that is where we are putting in the brick crosswalks."