Arkansas Transportation

The president of the Arkansas State University System says a bill to compensate for dwindling highway maintenance and construction funding would be "catastrophic" for higher education in the state.

Charles Welch told the system Board of Trustees on Friday that he opposed the bill approved a day earlier by the House Public Transportation Committee.

Central Arkansas Transit Authority CATA bus
David Monteith / KUAR News

Public transportation in the Little Rock area will undergo some major changes this summer. In July, 15 new buses with a noticeably different paint scheme will be added to the fleet as Central Arkansas Transit Authority, or CATA, becomes known as the Rock Region METRO.

The modern buses and new branding are part of a broader project known as Move Central Arkansas. Leading the effort is Executive Director and CEO Jarod Varner.

Arkansas River
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Funding for a key project to protect commercial river traffic on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System is included in President Barack Obama’s 2016 federal budget, which was delivered to Congress Monday.

With many similar projects vying for funding, officials with the Arkansas Waterways Commission are celebrating the news.

Scott Bennett Highway and Transportation Department
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A report released Tuesday says Arkansas motorists are losing about $2 billion a year through higher vehicle costs because of the poor condition of roads and bridges.

The non-profit national transportation research group TRIP says 32 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in urban areas and 23 percent in rural areas are in poor condition. 23 percent of Arkansas bridges, the group says, are in need of repair, improvement or replacement.

Hernando de Soto Bridge spanning the Mississippi River between West Memphis, AR and Memphis, TN.

The FBI wants law officers assigned to areas around the Mississippi River bridges at Memphis, Tennessee, to keep an eye on the spans after a vague threat that one would be blown up. FBI spokesmen said Tuesday the threat was unsubstantiated but that local police were still notified.

Two cross-country routes traverse the Mississippi River at Memphis - Interstates 40 and 55. They remained open.

The Arkansas State Highway Commission has approved a bid for improvements to a roadway in Pulaski County.

Officials at the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department said Monday that the purpose of the project is to replace a Highway 70 bridge that spans the Union Pacific Railroad, just west of the State Fairgrounds.

James Construction Group, LLC of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was awarded the contract totaling more than $10.6 million for the project.

Travelers will come across 28 miles of lane closures on major Arkansas roads during the upcoming holiday season.

The state Highway and Transportation Department said Friday the longest restriction will be along eight miles of Interstate 530 from Little Rock to near the Sheridan exit.

Interstate 40 will have lane restrictions in both directions for five miles near West Memphis, for five miles in eastbound lanes near Brinkley, and four miles in both directions near Russellville.

Interstate 40 Interstate 55 West Memphis
peggydavis66 / Wikimedia Commons

Heading into the Christmas travel season, the number of people traveling in Arkansas and nationwide will begin increasing this week. Clinton National Airport and the Arkansas State Police are preparing for busy air traffic and roadways. 

Hope Union Pacific
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Union Pacific Railroad says it will double the speed of its trains passing through Hope.

The Texarkana Gazette reports the company will increase speeds from 30 mph to 60 mph. The speeds will be increased in 5 mph increments until Dec. 22.

A Union Pacific spokesman says the company had been restricting the speeds through the city but is making the change after completing signal and track improvements. He says more collisions occur with slower trains and that drivers will have to wait less time at crossings.

Interstate 30
Arkansas Highway & Transportation Dept.

Arkansas drivers will encounter 28 miles of lane closings on major highways over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The  Highway and Transportation Department said Friday that four major highways will have construction-related lane closures: Interstates 40, 430 and 530, plus U.S. 67.