Arkansas Transportation

Rev your engines! Well, not yet. The Arkansas House overwhelmingly backed a bill on Thursday to raise the speed limit to 75 miles per hour on interstates and 65 miles per hour on other highways. If it becomes law, the five-mile per hour bump would still be subject to studies from state highway officials.

State Representative Justin Gonzalez, a Republican from Okolona, nestled between Prescott and Arkadelphia, is a fan of faster driving.

“I’d say that this bill couldn’t get here fast enough wouldn’t you agree?” Gonzalez joked to bill sponsor DeAnn Vaught (R-Horatio).

State Rep. Dan Douglas (R-Bentonville).
Arkansas Times/Brian Chilson

A pair of highway funding bills – which would be referred out to voters in November – is making headway in the Arkansas Legislature. A House committee easily advanced a bond issue proposal on Thursday morning and then a new tax on gasoline. Bill sponsor Dan Douglas, a Republican from Bentonville, said he doesn’t relish the idea of a new tax but it’s needed.

“Do I like doing this? I wish we had a goose that laid golden eggs,” said Douglas, “Cause we could fund all sorts of issues but we don’t have that goose.”

Sample of Arkansas Driver's License.
Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration

Arkansas drivers may soon have access to a digital driver’s license in addition to a hard copy. The Arkansas Senate advanced a bill on Monday that would create and offer a digital license as an equivalent to the physical license at traffic stops and the like.

Alongside a physical license drivers could pay $10 for a digital copy provided by the Office of Drivers Services.

Broadway Bridge
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department says the new U.S. Highway 70 Broadway Bridge will open to traffic next week. The Department says it was informed by the contractor Massman Construction Co. that the bridge will be ready at a time "yet to be determined" next week.

The Department is scheduling a “ceremonial first crossing” on Monday, February 27 at 3:30pm. The completion is nearly a month ahead of schedule for the $98.4 million project. The bridge has been closed since late September of last year.

From an AHTD press release:

Arkansas state trooper police crash wrong way
KATV, Channel 7 News

The Arkansas State Highway Commission has approved a $3.1 million bid for highway and interstate improvements aimed at reducing wrong-way crashes.

The commission awarded the contract to Ewing Signal Construction of Nixa, Missouri. The project calls for improvements on interstate off-ramps, including sign replacements, lowered signs and other projects that officials hope will cut down on the number of crashes caused by people driving the wrong way on the ramps.

Plane Crash
KATV, Channel 7 News

Authorities say two people were killed when a single-engine airplane crashed near Gurdon in southwestern Arkansas while on a flight from Texas to North Carolina.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro says the two were killed Thursday afternoon when the Cessna 4090 aircraft crashed and they were apparently the only people on board the aircraft when it went down about 75 miles southwest of Little Rock.

The names of the victims were not immediately released.

Arkansas Highway & Transportation Dept.
Arkansas Highway & Transportation Dept.

A new report from the Good Roads Foundation  suggests a majority of Arkansas Voters would likely be willing to extend a half cent sales tax earmarked for highways that is currently set to expire in 2023.

Phillip Taldo
Governor's Office / YouTube

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he will name Philip Taldo of Springdale to the Arkansas Highway Commission, effective next month. Taldo will replace Frank Scott Jr. of Little Rock.

Taldo currently serves on the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. The governor said in a statement that economic development and highways go hand-in-hand and that Taldo would bring the necessary experience to his role on the Highway Commission.

The appointment runs for 10 years.

Taldo said he was humbled and excited by his selection.

Officials say an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Indianapolis was forced to make an emergency landing in Arkansas after a passenger's electronic cigarette "malfunctioned" and started a small fire.

 

American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein says none of the 137 passengers or five crew members was injured, adding that crew members quickly extinguished the fire. The flight made the emergency landing Thursday afternoon at Little Rock's Clinton National Airport.

 

freight train collision Hoxie
KATV, Channel 7 News

Crew fatigue brought on by irregular work schedules and a moderate form of sleep apnea is the primary reason behind a middle-of-the-night train crash that killed two Union Pacific workers and injured two others in northern Arkansas, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.

The panel also blamed an automatic horn that improperly reset alarms and the railroad industry's slow adoption of a system to stop trains automatically.

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