Arkansas Transportation

Highways traffic Big Rock Interchange interstate
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A five-year plan for Arkansas highway construction and maintenance projects totaling $4.8 billion is ready for public review and comment.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the more than 350-page plan includes nearly 700 large and small projects that the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department is planning from 2016 to 2020.

The centerpiece of the statewide transportation improvement program draft is a project to remake the Interstate 30 corridor through North Little Rock and downtown Little Rock. The $631 million project is the plan's most expensive item.

Forty years in the making, Interstate 555 in Arkansas is about to become a reality.

 

Arkansas highway officials and others will designate 44 miles of U.S. 63 as Interstate 555 on Friday. The route runs from I-55 near Turrell to U.S. 49 in Jonesboro.

 

Upgrades have been going on since the 1970s, but having the highway designated as I-555 was hung up because of a federal law prohibiting farm equipment from interstate highways.

 

Broadway Bridge
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas highway officials are delaying plans to close the 93-year-old bridge connecting Little Rock and North Little Rock until this fall at the earliest. 

Arkansas Highway and Transportation Director Scott Bennett told reporters Wednesday the state had initially hoped to close the Broadway Bridge by May or June as part of its $98 million project to replace the span. He said the six-month closure of the bridge could occur as early as this fall or as late as next summer.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

A regional infrastructure and transportation policy panel Wednesday endorsed a quarter cent sales tax that would expand public transit services in Pulaski County. The Metroplan Board of Directors, which consists of mayors and county judges from central Arkansas, passed the resolution in a voice vote after hearing a presentation by Rock Region Metro Executive Director Jarod Varner.

Rock Region Metro transit buses CAT central arkansas transit
David Monteith / KUAR

Rock Region METRO, formerly known as Central Arkansas Transit, is asking voters to approve a quarter-cent sales tax increase which would generate a projected $18 million, all earmarked for public transit. According to Executive Director Jarod Varner, the additional revenue would allow the organization to be more responsive to current passenger needs and attract new riders.

“Our system is anchored in a funding structure that was developed in 1986 and so it's very difficult to make major service changes. We want to modernize what we do,” said Varner               

Talk Business and Politics

Editor’s note: The Arkansas Transportation report is managed by Talk Business & Politics and sponsored by the Arkansas Trucking Association and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/AIA. Other transportation industry related stories can be found on the Arkansas Transportation Report landing page.

greencarreports.com

Motorists in Arkansas and the rest of the nation should get used to filling up their tanks for less after the U.S. Department of Energy forecasted on Tuesday that average pump prices for regular unleaded should remain on average below $2 per gallon throughout 2016.

In the near-term, a GasBuddy analyst said the bloated wholesale market for gasoline could also push pump prices in some parts of the U.S. below the one dollar a gallon mark in coming weeks, a level not seen since 1999.

A $250,000 grant to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission will be used to improve unpaved county roads in Arkansas.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and The Nature Conservancy jointly presented the check Tuesday to the AEDC's Rural Services Division. The Game and Fish Commission is providing $150,000 and The Nature Conservancy is providing $100,000.

Bill and Hillary Clinton Airport Sign
Jason Burt / Arkansas Business

The Arkansas State Highway Commission has approved a $33.8 million bid for improvements on Interstate 440 near the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock.

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department says Kiewit Infrastructure South Company of Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded the bid for the project. The plan calls for the rehabilitation of 2.8 miles of Interstate 440 between Bankhead Drive and the Arkansas River bridge.

Talk Business & Politics

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said his highway funding plan will work without raising taxes by finding government efficiencies and continuing with the state’s Medicaid expansion. Without those planks, Hutchinson says tax increases will enter the debate.

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