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Marion applying for ARDOT grant


Money could pave the way for Military Road expansion funding

Marion has applied for a $500,000 grant from Arkansas Department of Transportation to help pay for landscaping and other improvements to go along with the widening of Military Road in 2020.

Mayor Frank Fogleman said he has submitted the paperwork to ARDOT and hopes that the city will be awarded some money for the project.

“We’re going to ask for help with the lighting, landscaping, and irrigation that goes along there,” Fogleman said.

The state is planning to widen Military Road to three lanes from the intersection of I-55 to the railroad tracks where Military Road meets Hwy. 77.

The plans include a request by Marion to include a raised median, turn lanes, decorative lighting and landscaping.

Fogleman said he initially thought they would apply to use the money to help pay for sidewalks and bike lanes, but was told by their consultant that the state plans already include the bike lanes and sidewalks in the design, and to ask for the money for the landscaping instead.

“My understanding all along was that the landscaping would be up to us,” Fogleman said. “So I think it is worth going down this road to ask.”

The grant would require a 20 percent match from the city.

“We’re asking for $500,000, but they may give us less,” Fogleman said. “Either way, we are trading 20 cents for a dollar of whatever we get. So I’ll take that trade if we can get it.”

Fogleman said he does not have any firm cost estimates yet about how much the landscaping improvements will cost.

The city hired Ecological Design Group, Inc. of Wynne in 2016 to come up with a master plan to revitalize the downtown area which included adding features like bike and walking trails, sidewalks, signage, and landscaping.

The plan put a price tag on the improvements at $1.5 million. That cost estimate though, included sidewalks and bike paths, which the state will be paying for in its design.

The state has also agreed to install the electrical conduit for the street lighting and rough end plumbing for the irrigation lines at no cost, which Fogleman said will further reduce the city’s costs as well.

“That’s help that we had not anticipated,” Fogleman said. “We thought it would all be on us. So that’s a good thing. We just don’t know what the final details will be.”

Fogleman said he also doesn’t know how much money is in the pool for the grants. Typically cities ask for the maximum amount, which in this instance is $500,000. But even if their request is granted and they receive only a portion of the funds, Fogleman said it could still save the city several hundred thousand dollars.

“There will be some that get partially funded, some that won’t get funded at all, and some may get 100 percent funded,” Fogleman said. “We will just get in line to find out.”

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