$95 MILLION HWY-FUNDING BILL FUNDS ARKANSAS ROADS
Bill brings road construction, repairs and reconstruction across the state
By Chloe Short | Aspiring Journalist
Delta Digital News Service
JONESBORO, Ark. – Interstates, major highways and other roads receive will receive improvements with the $95 million highway-funding bill signed by the governor. The bill helps fix unsafe roads, repair potholes and mend other road problems.
Dave Parker, public information officer for the Arkansas Department of Transportation, said growing concerns about congestion and pavement preservation factor into the plans when deciding what areas to focus on. Congestion causes slower traffic or traffic back-ups, while pavement preservation keeps the current roads maintained so drivers experience less deterrents while on the road.
“About 76% of our total money goes toward just maintaining the highways and bridges we currently have. The remaining 24% is spent on new projects,” Parker said.
ARDOT plans for Jonesboro residents and drivers passing through to experience road construction on I-555 that started April 14 and will continue until later this year. Road work involves reconstructing and overlaying pavement for five bridges.
Parker said, “Construction is in full-swing all over the state. ARDOT’s current plans aim at improving many sections of downtown Little Rock, mending and widening I-30 in Saline County and widening Highway 10 in Pulaski County from a four-lane road to six. Those projects will take two years to complete with a cost of around $80 million,” Parker said.
Big projects like the Bella Vista Bypass in Northwest Arkansas see a predicted opening this fall. Parker said to make sure the budget gets followed, ARDOT hires contractors who present good reputations with proven track records to deliver quality work on time.
Joe Quinn, executive director of the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation, said the highway-funding bill won 72 out of 75 counties, making the sales tax allotted to road improvements permanent. Construction starts where the most traffic takes place. Quinn said he and others pushed for voter approval because this bill helps keep state roads safe for all drivers.
“If voters had not voted in support of this bill, then every county in Arkansas would have lost 30% of its road budget and every city in Arkansas would have lost 30% of its road budget. For instance cities would have lost $46 million for road repairs,” Quinn said.
Shannon Newton, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association, pushed voter approval for the bill, primarily issue 1 of it and pressed state residents to care about the future safety of their roads and bridges. Newton said the governor’s leadership and the support of stakeholder groups representing all types of Arkansans made for strong voices contributing to the cause.
“The trucking industry relies on all types of infrastructure throughout the state, which is one of the great things about Issue One. Issue One will help make our state highway system safer by improving over 7,000 miles of roads and repairing dangerous bridges, relieve heavy traffic congestion on highly traveled roads and support over 3,600 jobs annually and provide $8.2 billion in economic activity over 10 years,” Newton said.