The railroad in Mayflower divides the town.
Moreso, the trains that travel along said the tracks oftentimes hinders residents from getting from the east side to the west side in a timely manner.
Sometimes, travelers are stopped longer than state law allows — 10 minutes between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. and 15 minutes from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., Arkansas Department of Transportation Railroad Crossing Coordinator Steve Weston said — and are sitting at the blinking lights for close to 25 to 30 minutes.
Mayflower Mayor Randy Holland said the first responders are on one side close to the interstate and places like the middle and high school are on another, leaving room for serious concern.
“It’s just dangerous,” he said. “Public safety [is important].”
Holland has been mayor for 12 years, but before that he was on the planning commission for Mayflower for four years and the overpass conversation was being had.
“About 16 years now, [I've been] trying to get this done,” he said.
Holland said the project has been in the works for longer than that … close to 20 or so years through Metroplan, a long-range transportation planning agency for central Arkansas.
Metroplan Deputy Director Casey Covington said the overpass plans go back to 1995, when the company did a public outreach and found out that rail-grade separations were crucial to the region. In 1997, the agency’s board of directors, which includes mayors and county judges from central Arkansas, adopted a priority list of 12 overpass to be completed by 2020.
Covington said the Mayflower need was listed as 13th but was bumped up to 12th, replacing another project.
Randy Holland said the new addition will give way to a safer path as well as provide possible economic value to the small town.
“I’m looking forward to it and I think it will be really good for not only Mayflower but the whole community,” he said.
Covington said the ArDOT is contributing more than $15 million to the project, which includes federal and state money, Metroplan is contributing almost $9.5 million with federal funds, meaning Mayflower and Faulkner County will need to pay $2 million.
ArDOT’s Jessie Jones, the head of planning and policy, told the Log Cabin Democrat that the project is set to start early 2020, are at 85 percent with the environmental study and working on the designs.
She said a big factor for the design state is the I-40, Highway 89 interchange that is being recommended by Garver engineers and making sure the ArDOT design doesn’t impede that.
“That’s a pretty big step for us,” Jones said.