Need for better state roads touted in Arkansas

| 12/5/2006

A group that wants improvements made to roads throughout Arkansas has started a campaign to raise highway-needs awareness. The group is expected to pursue a new highway construction bond program in the upcoming legislative session.

The state's Highway Commission has estimated highway improvement needs will total $19 billion during the next decade, the Arkansas News Bureau reported.

To help fund roadwork, the Arkansas Good Roads Transportation Council is expected to pursue a highway bond program and new revenue sources during the legislative session that begins Jan. 8, 2007.

The group's newly-appointed director, state Rep. Johnny Bolin, D-Crossett, said lawmakers should consider tapping into as much as $200 million of the state's budget surplus and using some of the state's general revenue to help with roads. Bolin is taking the position with the roads group as his time in the Arkansas Legislature comes to a close due to term limits.

Bolin told the News Bureau that a new bond program would have a good chance at passage in the new session if Gov.-elect Mike Beebe supported it.

During his campaign, Beebe said there is a need for highway improvements, as well as a four-lane highway across northern Arkansas. He didn't offer specific plans.

A spokesman for Beebe's transition team said the new governor would have to review all budget requests before taking a position on road funding.