A ribbon-cutting ceremony is Tuesday morning in the northwest lobby of the Delta Center for Economic Development located at 319 University Loop West Circle on the ASU campus.
The parkway will improve access to ASU by crossing over the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern-Santa Fe railroad tracks southwest of campus. A reception will be held before the ribbon-cutting at 10AM. Both events are open to the public.
The parkway, named for the Honorable Marion Berry who retired after serving with distinction as U.S. Congressman representing Arkansas' First Congressional District since 1997, will be completed at a cost of approximately $18 million earlier than the original predicted date of spring 2012. Berry is expected to attend the events along with Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe.
"Opening the Marion Berry Parkway will be a very significant event for several reasons. First and foremost, the safety of students, faculty, staff, and visitors will be enhanced greatly with the addition of the railroad overpasses," commented ASU interim chancellor Dr. Dan Howard. "The parkway will further strengthen the wonderful town-gown relationship that Arkansas State University enjoys with the city of Jonesboro.
"We would be remiss if we did not recognize the contributions of the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce, the volunteers who participated in multiple fly-ins to Washington, DC advocating for this project, and the sponsors who provided funding that covered a substantial portion of the expenses of the fly-in.
The sponsors include St. Bernards Medical Center, NEA Baptist Clinic, Farr APC,Riceland Foods, Unilever, Ritter Communications, Liberty Bank of Arkansas, Cache River Valley Seed, Nice Pak, Bancorp South, Iberia Bank, First Security Bank and Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee.
"Also, the Board of Trustees wisely named this outstanding new transportation link in honor of a gentleman who worked hard and tirelessly throughout his career for the benefit of ASU, Jonesboro and East Arkansas--Congressman Marion Berry. We appreciate Congressman Berry immensely for his service to Arkansas and to his country," Dr. Howard concluded.
The Board of Trustees passed a resolution Dec. 12, 2008, to name the overpass for Rep. Berry, noting that the Congressman worked to improve education in the First Congressional District and throughout Arkansas by securing millions of dollars in federal funds for Head Start, school construction and student loan programs. The resolution goes on to state that, as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 1997-2002, Congressman Berry had obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants to modernize Arkansas' transportation infrastructure.
A transportation bill was approved by Congress and signed into law by President George Bush in August 2005, which helped to initiate funding for the west campus overpass. In addition, construction funding was provided by ASU, the city of Jonesboro and the state of Arkansas.