Arkansas Transportation

Hope Union Pacific
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Union Pacific Corp., which operates more than 1,300 miles of railroad track in Arkansas, announced plans to cut up to 750 jobs that will impact management and administrative positions across the company’s operations.

According to an 8K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Union Pacific’s board of directors approved and initiated the personnel reorganization plan to further its “ongoing efforts to increase efficiency and more effectively align company resources.”

Pizza
Arkansas Department of Transportation

Arkansas highway officials shut down westbound lanes of a cross-country interstate for four hours so crews could pick up pizza.

An 18-wheeler containing DiGiorno and Tombstone frozen pizzas scraped a bridge support and sliced open its trailer Wednesday, spilling them across Interstate 30 in front of the Arkansas Department of Transportation office. Agency spokesman Danny Straessle said the bridge had only cosmetic damage.

Interstate 40 Interstate 55 West Memphis
peggydavis66 / Wikimedia Commons

A study is to be completed by the end of summer on whether Arkansas should raise the speed limits on interstates in rural areas to 75-miles-per-hour.

One of the new state laws going into effect Tuesday, which was passed earlier this year by the Arkansas General Assembly, opens the possibility.

"It doesn’t mean we will go out and do it, it just enables us to," said Danny Straessle, spokesman for the department that on Tuesday will become known as the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

Mark stodola mayor
Arkansas Times

A key complaint for those who walk or cycle on the Arkansas River Trail is the section in Little Rock where the trail essentially ends and they have to join vehicular traffic on city streets. But a vote this week by the city’s Board of Directors and an agreement the mayor expects to announce soon could change that.

Big Rock Interchange I-630 I-430
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Highway Commission has decided to seek a ballot measure to increase money for state roads next year after lawmakers refused to send voters a proposal that would have raised $200 million a year.

The panel voted Wednesday to pursue putting a proposal on next year's ballot to increase highway funding. The panel will spend the coming months studying the level of additional funding it wants to seek. It also will work on the specific type or proposal it wants to put before voters.

Union Pacific
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Union Pacific, which is the largest railroad operating in Arkansas, is working with local law enforcement agencies in an effort to crack down on drivers going around lowered crossing gates in front of approaching trains. They also watch for people trespassing by walking on railroad tracks or doing anything else considered unsafe.

About a dozen Little Rock Police officers took part in an operation this past week in the southwest part of the city. It was the latest effort in an ongoing campaign.

Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department

In the coming weeks, the regional transportation policy agency Metroplan will open up a public comment period on the proposed widening of Interstate 30 in Little Rock and North Little Rock near the Arkansas River. The project, expected to cost more than $600 million, has attracted much public debate over the last year for the significant changes it could bring to the downtown area.

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.

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