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Election 2012: Arkansas voters pass road funding initiative
By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

Voters in Arkansas this week authorized more borrowing to pay for transportation work throughout the state.

Issue 1 on Arkansas’ statewide ballot was approved with 58 percent of voters agreeing to a half-cent sales tax increase to cover a $1.8 billion bond issue for roads and bridges. The increase is slated to take effect in July.

The 10-year tax increase will be used to help address repairs and construction of a statewide four-lane highway system. Specifically, approval will benefit state highways and bridges, county roads, 19 bridges and other surface transportation, as well as city streets and bridges.

Two widening projects that have been identified to benefit from the tax increase include Interstate 40 from Conway to Little Rock, and I-540 between Fayetteville and Bentonville.

The Arkansas Legislature voted 18 months ago to put the question on the ballot. Advocates said the proposal is based on recommendations of a governor-appointed task force to address a gap in transportation funding, which has been estimated at about $19 billion during the next decade.

Tuesday’s results mark the second straight election that Arkansas voters approved a transportation funding question. A year ago voters overwhelmingly supported the renewal of a $575 million highway bond program that has been around for more than a decade.

Issue 1 also included authorization to permanently dedicate 1 cent per-gallon of proceeds from the state’s motor fuel taxes to the State Aid Street Fund. The fund provides money for local street construction and repair.

It is estimated the change would generate $20 million a year.

For more 2012 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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