Arkansas 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.

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.

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